MEN AND BIRTH
Volume 11, No. 1, Winter/Spring 1991
Governors State University, University Park, IL 60466 - 3193
Published under the auspices of the provosts office,
© 1991 governors state university and helen hughes
ISSN 0736 - 4733
Helen E. Hughes, Editor
Suzanne Oliver, Art Director
Barbara Conant, Library Resources
Nirmala Cano, Subscriptions
Lynne Hostetter, Word Processing
Linda Kuester, Word Processing
Lynn Ann Lindvig, Editorial Consultant
Priscilla Rockwell, Editorial Consultant
Emily Wasiolek, Editorial Consultant
Theresa Rooney, Editorial Assistant
Art Schmaltz, Guest Editor
David R Matteson, Guest Editor
Glenda Baily-Mershon, Illinois NOW/National Organization for Women, Oak Park, IL
Donna Bandstra, Healthgroup International, Sherman Oaks, CA
Margaret Brady, Social Sciences, Homewood, IL
Rev. Ellen Dohner Livingston, Religion, Unitarian Society of Ponoma Valley, CA
Rita Durrant, League of American Penwomen, Doylestown, PA
Deborah Garretson, Counseling, Muncie, IN
Temmie Gilbert, Theatre/ Media, Governors State University
Linda Grace-Kobas, Journalism, University of Buffalo, NY
Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women 's Studies, Governors State University
Helene N. Guttman, Biological Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Bethe Hagens, Anthropology, Governors State University
Barbara Jenkins, Psychology, Governors State University
Betye Saar, Fine Arts, Hollywood, CA
Sara Shumer, Political Theory, Haverford College, PA
Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss, Religion,Women's Studies/Parenting, Oak Park, IL
PAGE TABLE OF CONTENTS
3 About our Guest Editors
4 Introduction to Men and Birth Art Schmaltz and David Matteson
5 Fatherhood and Social Change Ralph LaRossa
10 The True Self, The False Self, and Male Sex Role Expectations Sally ]. Nador
12 Pregnant Dreams: The Secret Life of the Expectant Father Alan B. Siegel
18 Men Giving Birth Art Schmaltz and Waud Kracke
20 "What Time Is It?" Marge Robinson
21 Male Circumcision Art Schmaltz
24 "Jason's Here" Sidney Miller
25 Men and Birth: A Selective Bibliography Barbara Conant
26 Mother Earth III: Artist's Statement Art Schmaltz
27 Goddess Scultures (photographs by Richard Burd) Art Schmaltz
29 Martin Lueders: The Ethics of Street Photography Paul Schranz
30 Artist's Statement and Photograph Series Martin Lueders
34 "The Difference Between Popular and Unpopular Photography" Jay Boersma
36 "In the Men's House" Tom Seidner
"My Osprey" Dave Matteson
37 Prizewinners: Temmie Gilbert and Judy Panko Reis
40 In Loving Memory: Elaine Garretson, Edith Perlmutter, Sonja Weil
41 Exchange Ads
42 Letters To The Editor George Feuerstein, Claudia Snow, and Wayne McKusick
45 Uncommon Lives: Creative Women Celebrated at Rockford College Helen Hughes
46 Editor's Column: We're Looking for a Few Good Men Helen Hughes
The Creative Woman is published three times a year by Governors
State University. We focus on a special topic in each issue, presented
from a feminist perspective. We celebrate the creative achievements of
women in many fields and appeal to inquiring minds. We publish
fiction, poetry, book reviews, articles, photography and original graphics.
Cover photograph: Incubation,
poplar wood, 12" x 11", 1983,
Photo credit: Richard Burd.
ABOUT OUR GUEST EDITORS
Art Schmaltz, M. A., is an instructor at Prairie
State College, Chicago Heights, Illinois. Mr.
Schmaltz' sculptural work is represented in
private and public collections throughout the
Midwest. He is also an environmental activist
and heads the environment committee of the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Park Forest,
IL. He also chairs the Special Committee for
Occupational Health, Transportation, Commu-
nications International Union, Local 6560. Mr.
Schmaltz is an active member of the Interna-
tional Association for the Study of Dreams,
and has led "experiential dream groups" for
the past twenty years. He is also active in the
BIRTH-WISE organization and is researching
and writing on birthing and obstetric issues.
Art Schmaltz and son, Wolfgang
David R. Matteson is a founding member
of both the National Organization of Men
Against Sexism and the Campaign to End
Homophobia. He teaches psychology and
family counseling at Governors State
University, and has a small private
practice. He has authored a text and co-
authored a major research volume on
adolescent identity; he also does research
in family dynamics, and in bisexual life-
styles, and has been published in four
languages. He and his wife have parented
a boy and a girl, both now in college. As
his fathering responsibilities diminish, he
hopes to travel more and write more
poems and creative essays.
MEN AND BIRTH
Popular culture is often an indicator of new trends and struggles that are taking place in society.
In the last few years the media have shown a renewed interest in portraying men as nurturing
figures. Movies such as 'Three Men and a Baby," and most recently "Kindergarten Cop" have
tried to capitalize upon men's nurturing and fathering issues. Is popular culture accurately
portraying the struggle of men to re-define their roles in the birth and nurturing process? Men in
our culture are now being offered a new male role model, a composite of The Terminator and Mr.
Rogers! The media portrayal of macho heroes with some cute kids thrown into hackneyed
scripts, or the well-worn portrayal of men with babies as "comic figures" detracts from the
seriousness of men's efforts to create realistic roles for themselves.
In an attempt to bring some seriousness to the debate surrounding men's roles in the birth and
nurturing process we, as guest editors present this special issue of The Creative Woman. We
have found that working within the framework of feminist philosophy is anything but constrain-
ing when exploring men's issues. A feminist critique of history and culture is informative for
men as well as women, and nowhere is this more true than with issues surrounding birth and
nurturing. Women were the ones to do the serious groundwork around birthing and obstetrics.
As a result, men began questioning their traditional place in the "father's waiting room."
It has been our intent as editors to provide the reader with an interlocking structure and logic to
the sequence of articles offered here. Taken as a whole, the articles explore certain aspects of the
deep cultural matrix within which men's roles are embedded. The opening article by Ralph
LaRossa reveals a contradiction in men's image and behavior around the nurturing process thus
framing a dilemma for men. The new self that men imagine themselves to be is in a way "false."
Sally Nader's article 'The True Self, The False Self and Male Sex Role Expectations" presents this
dilemma for men in terms of a "true self /false self challenge." Nador's article provides the
theoretical model of Donald Winnicott as a means of understanding an aspect of the problem
raised by LaRossa.
Alan Siegel provides empirical evidence and research that gives credence to the Winnicottian
perspective. At one level men have internalized their culturally defined gender identity. Their
image of masculinity minimizes the role of "expectant father." Dr. Siegel's analysis of the dream
life of expectant fathers reveals another story: intense anxieties and suppressed emotions haunt
men during these times. The dream process provides men with an awareness and the means of
taking on the true self /false self challenge; at the same time our culture does not support or
encourage men to incorporate their dream process into their self image.
Religion and cultural mythology are powerful organizers of institutional and individual "reali-
ties." The article "Men Giving Birth" by Waud Kracke and Art Schmaltz attempts to reveal some
of the dynamics at work in our and other cultures.
And finally, Art Schmaltz attempts to show how one cultural ritual, "male circumcision," im-
pacts upon men, women, and society as a whole. The reader is left with the final challenge of
creating healing instead of wounding rituals.
A.S. & D.R.M.
FATHERHOOD AND SOCIAL
Has fatherhood changed in the wake of the social and economic
changes that have taken place in America since the turn of the
century? Although the evidence is scant, it would appear that the
answer is both yes and no. Yes, fatherhood has changed, if one looks
at the culture of fatherhood — the ideologies surrounding men's
parenting. No, fatherhood has not changed (at least significantly), if
one looks at the conduct of fatherhood— how fathers behave vis-a-vis
their children. The consequences of this asynchrony between the
culture and the conduct of fatherhood are, as this article demon-
strates, both positive and negative and need to be addressed by
family researchers and practitioners alike.
The consensus of opinion in American society is
that something has happened to American fathers.
Long considered minor players in the affairs of
their children, today's fathers often are depicted as
major parental figures, people who are expected
to — people who presumably want to — be there
when their kids need them. "Unlike their own
father or grandfathers/' many are prone to say.
But, despite all the attention that the so-called
"new fathers" have been receiving lately, only a
few scholars have systematically conceptualized
the changing father hypothesis, and no one to date
has marshalled the historical evidence needed to
adequately test the hypothesis (Demos, 1982;
Hanson & Bozett, 1985; Lamb, 1987; Lewis, 1986;
Lewis & O'Brien, 1987; McKee & O'Brien, 1982;
Pleck, 1987; Rotundo, 1985).
Given that there is not much evidence to support
the hypothesis, (a) how do we account for the fact
that many, if not most, adults in America believe
that fatherhood has changed, and (b) what are the
consequences — for men, for women, for families —
resulting from the apparent disparity between
beliefs and actuality? The purpose of this article is
to answer these two questions.
The Asynchrony Between the Culture and
Conduct of Fatherhood
The institution of fatherhood includes two related
but still distinct elements. There is the culture of
fatherhood (specifically the shared norms, values,
and beliefs surrounding men's parenting), and
there is the conduct of fatherhood (what fathers
do, their paternal behaviors). The distinction
between culture and conduct is worth noting
because although it is often assumed that the
culture and conduct of a society are in sync, the
fact is that many times the two are not synchro-
nized at all.
The distinction between culture and conduct is
especially relevant when trying to assess whether
fatherhood has changed because the available
evidence on the history of fatherhood suggests
that the culture of fatherhood has changed more
rapidly than the conduct. For example, E. An-
thony Rotundo (1985) argues that since 1970 a new
style of American fatherhood has emerged,
namely "Androgynous Fatherhood." In the an-
A good father is an active participant in the details of
day-to-day child care. He involves himself in a more
expressive and intimate way with his children, and he
plays a larger part in the socialization process that his
male forebears had long since abandoned to their wives,
Rotundo (1985) is describing not what fathers
lately have been doing but what some people
would like fathers to begin doing. Later on he
says that the new style is primarily a middle-class
phenomenon and that "even within the upper-
middle class... there are probably far more men
who still practice the traditional style of fathering
more than the new style." He also surmises that
"there are more women who advocate 'Androgy-
nous Fatherhood' than there are men who practice
it" (p. 20).
The culture of fatherhood changed primarily in
response to the shifts in the conduct of mother-
hood. In the wake of declines in the birth rate and
increases in the percentage of mothers in the labor
force, the culture of motherhood changed, such
that it is now more socially acceptable for women
to combine motherhood with employment outside
the home (Margolis, 1984). The more it became
apparent that today's mothers were less involved
with their children, on a day-to-day basis, than
were their own mothers or grandmothers, the
more important it became to ask the question:
Who's minding the kids? Not appreciating the
extent to which substitute parents (day-care
centers, etc.) have picked up the slack for mothers,
many people (scholars as well as the lay public)
assumed that fathers must be doing a whole lot
more than before and changed their beliefs to
conform to this assumption. In other words,
mother-child interaction was erroneously used as
a "template" to measure father-child interaction
(Day & Mackey, 1986).
The Conduct of Fatherhood Versus the Conduct
Contending that the conduct of fatherhood has
changed very little over the course of the 20th
century flies in the face of what many of us see
every day: dads pushing strollers, changing
diapers, playing in the park with their kids. Also,
what about the men who publicly proclaim that
they have made a conscientious effort to be more
involved with their children than their own
fathers were with them?
What cannot be forgotten is that appearances and
proclamations (both to others and ourselves) can
be deceiving; everything hinges on how we con-
ceptualize and measure parental conduct. Michael
Lamb (1987) notes that scholars generally have
been ambiguous about what they mean by paren-
tal "involvement," with the result that it is difficult
to compare one study with the next, and he main-
tains that if we ever hope to determine whether or
not fathers have changed, we must arrive at a
definition that is both conceptually clear and
comprehensive. The definition which he thinks
should be used is one that separates parental
involvement into three components: engagement,
accessibility, and responsibility. Engagement is
time spent in one-on-one interaction with a child
(whether feeding, helping with homework, or
playing catch in the backyard). Accessibility is a
less intense degree of interaction and is the kind of
involvement whereby the parent is doing one
thing (cooking, watching television) but is ready
or available to do another (respond to the child, if
the need arises). Responsibility has to do with who
is accountable for the child's welfare and care.
Responsibility includes things like making sure
that the child has clothes to wear and keeping
track of when the child has to go to the pediatri-
Reviewing studies that allow comparisons to be
made between contemporary fathers' involvement
with children and contemporary mothers' involve-
ment with children, Lamb (1987) estimates that in
two-parent families in which mothers are unem-
ployed, fathers spend about one fifth to one
quarter as much time as mothers do in an engage-
ment status and about a third as much time as
mothers do just being accessible to their children.
In two-parent families with employed mothers,
fathers spend about 33% as much time as mothers
do in an engagement status and 65% as much time
being accessible. As far as responsibility is con-
cerned, mothers appear to carry over 90% of the
load, regardless of whether they are employed or
not. Lamb also notes that observational and
survey data indicate that the behavioral styles of
fathers and mothers differ. Mother-child interac-
tion is dominated by caretaking whereas father-
child interaction is dominated by play.
Mothers actually play with their children more than
fathers do but, as a proportion of the total amount of
child-parent interaction, play is a much more prominent
component of father-child interaction, whereas
caretaking is more salient with mothers. (Lamb, p. 10)
In looking for trends, Lamb relies on one of the
few studies which allows historical comparisons
to be made — a 1975 national survey that was
repeated in 1981 (Juster, 1985). No data apparently
were collected on parents' accessibility or respon-
sibility levels, but betweeen 1975 and 1981, among
men and women aged 18 to 44, there was a 26%
increase in fathers' engagement levels and a 7%
increase in mothers'. Despite these shifts, paternal
engagement was only about one third that of
mothers, increasing from 29% in 1975 to 34% in
1981 (Lamb, 1987).
While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with
talking about percentage changes, one should be
careful about relying on them and them alone. If,
for example, one examines the tables from which
Lamb drew his conclusions (Juster, 1985), one
finds that the number of hours per week that the
fathers spent in child care was 2.29 hours in 1975,
compared to 2.88 hours in 1981, which is an
increase of about 35 minutes per week or 5 min-
utes per day. The mothers in the sample, on the
other hand, spent 7.96 hours per week in child
care in 1975, compared to 8.54 hours per week in
child care in 1981, which also is an increase of
about 35 minutes per week or 5 minutes per day.
Thus, in absolute terms, fathers and mothers
increased their child care by the same amount.
Bear in mind also that we are still talking about
only one component of parental involvement,
namely engagement. The two national surveys
provide little, if any, information about changes in
the accessibility and responsibility levels of fathers
and mothers. Until we gather historical data
which would allow us to compare all three com-
ponents of fatherhood, we should temper our
excitement about surveys which suggest changes
in the conduct of fatherhood over time.
What about the dads who are seen interacting
with their kids in public (see Mackey & Day,
1979)? A thoughtful answer to this question also
must address how we conceptualize and measure
paternal involvement. Does the paternal engage-
ment level of fathers in public square with the
paternal engagement level of fathers in private, or
are we getting an inflated view of fatherhood from
public displays? The fact that fathers can be seen
in public with their children may not be as impor-
tant as the question, How much time do fathers
spend alone with their children? One recent study
found that mothers of young children spent an
average of 44.5 hours per week in total child-
interaction time (which goes beyond engagement),
while fathers spent an average of 29.48 hours per
week, and 1.5 to 1 difference. If one looked, how-
ever, at time spent alone with children, one dis-
covered that 19.56 hours of mothers' child-interac-
tion time, compared with 5.48 hours of fathers'
child-interaction, was solo time, a 3.6 to 1 differ-
ence. Moreover, while fathers' total interaction
time was positively affected by the number of
hours their wives worked, fathers' solo time was
not affected at all (Barnett & Baruch, 1987).
As for the public proclamations, almost all the
books and articles which tout the arrival of "new"
fatherhood are written not by a cross-section of the
population but by upper-middle class profession-
als. Kort and Friedland's (1986) edited book, for
instance, has 57 men writing about their preg-
nancy, birth, and child-rearing experiences. But,
who are these men? For the most part, they are
novelists, educators, sculptors, real estate inves-
tors, radio commentators, newspaper editors,
publishers, physicians, performers, psychologists,
social workers, and attorneys. Not exactly a
representative sample. As Rotundo (1985) notes,
androgynous fatherhood as an ideal has caught
the attention of the upper-middle class more than
any other group, but even in this group, words
seem to speak louder than actions.
While the perception of fathers in public and the
Kort and Friedland (1986) book may not accu-
rately represent what fathers in general are doing,
they can most certainly have an effect of what
people think fathers are doing and should be
doing. Which brings us back to the question, What
are the consequences that have resulted from the
apparent disparity between beliefs and actuality?
The Consequences of Asynchronous Social
The idea that fathers have radically changed — that
they now are intimately involved in raising their
children — is having an impact on our lives and
that of our children. On the positive side, people
are saying that at least we have made a start. Sure,
men are not as involved with their children as
some of us would like them to be, but, so the
argument goes, the fact that we are talking about
change represents a step in the right direction. But
what about the negative side of the myth of the
The Technically Present but Functionally Absent
The distinction between engagement and accessi-
bility outlined by Lamb (1987) is similar to the
distinction between primary time and secondary
time in our study of the transition to parenthood
(LaRossa & La Rossa, 1981). The social organiza-
tion of a family with children, especially young
children, parallels the social organization of a
hospital in that both are continuous coverage
social systems (Zerubavel, 1979). Both are set up
to provide direct care to someone (be it children or
patients) on a round-the-clock or continuous basis.
And both the family and the hospital, in order to
give caregivers a break every now and then, will
operate according to some formal or informal
schedule such that some person or persons will be
"primarily" involved with the children or patients
(on duty) while others will be "secondarily"
involved (on call or accessible).
Like Lamb, we also found that the fathers' levels
of engagement, accessibility, and responsibility
were only a fraction of the mothers', and that
fathers tended to spend a greater part of their care
giving time playing with their children. Moreover,
we found that the kinds of play that fathers were
likely to be involved in were the kinds of activities
that could be carried out at a secondary (semi-
involved) level of attention, which is to say that it
was not unusual for fathers to be primarily in-
volved in watching television or doing household
chores while only secondarily playing with their
When asked why they wanted to be with their
children, the fathers often would answer along the
line that a father has to "put in some time with his
kids" (LaRossa, 1983, p. 585). Like prisoners who
"do time" in prison, many fathers see themselves
as "doing time" with their children. If, on some
level of consciousness, fathers have internalized
the idea that they should be more involved with
their children, but on another level of conscious-
ness they do not find the idea all that attractive,
one would expect the emergence of a hybrid style:
the technically present but functionally absent
father (cf. Feldman & Feldman, 1975, cited in Pleck,
The technically present but functionally absent
father manifests himself in a variety of ways. One
father in our study prided himself on the fact that
he and his wife cared for their new baby on an
alternating basis, with him "covering" the morn-
ings and his wife "covering" the afternoons. "We
could change roles in a night," he said; "it
wouldn't affect us." But when this father was
asked to describe a typical morning spent alone
with his infant son, he gave the distinct impression
that he saw fatherhood as a job and that while he
was "there" in body, he was someplace else in
J have the baby to be in charge of, [which has] really been
no problem for me at all. But that's because we worked
out a schedule where he sleeps a pretty good amount of
that time... I generally sort of have to be with him in the
sense of paying attention to his crying or dirty diapers or
something like that for anywhere between 30 to 45
minutes, sometimes an hour, depending. But usually I
can have two hours of my own to count on each morning
to do my own work, so it's no problem. That's just the
breaks that go with it.
Marital Conflict in Childbearing and
Because our study was longitudinal, we were able
to trace changes over time; and we found that from
the third, to the sixth, to the ninth month postpar-
tum, the couple became more traditional, with
fathers doing proportionately less child care
(LaRossa & La Rossa, 1981). It was this
traditionalization process that provided us with a
close-up view of what happens when the bubble
bursts; that is, what happens when the romanti-
cized vision of dad's involvement starts to break
One father, first interviewed around the third
month after his daughter's birth, wanted to com-
municate that he was not going to be an absentee
father like some of his friends were:
I've got a good friend of mine, he's the ultimate male
chauvinist pig. He will not change a diaper. ..[But] I
share in changing the diapers, and rocking the baby, and
in doing those kinds of things... I love babies.
During the sixth month interview, however, it was
revealed that he indeed had become very much
the absentee father. In fact, almost every evening
since the first interview he had left the house after
dinner to play basketball, or participate in an
amateur theater group, or sing in the local choir.
One would expect more conflict in marriage today
centered around the legitimacy of the division of
child care than, say, 40 years ago because of the
shift in the culture of fatherhood that has occurred
during this time. Some may say, "Great, with
more conflict there will be needed change." And
their point is valid. But what must be kept in mind
is that conflict also can escalate and destroy. Given
that at least one recent study has reported that the
most likely conflict to lead a couple to blows is
conflict over children (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz,
1980), family researchers and practitioners would
be well advised to pay attention to the possibility
that violence during the transition to parenthood
may be one negative consequence of asynchro-
nous social change.
Fathers and Guilt
Many men today experience ambivalence over
their performance as fathers. To feel "ambivalent"
about something is to feel alternately good and
bad about it. The plethora of autobiographical
books and articles written by fathers in the past
few years conveys the impression that men do feel
and, perhaps most importantly, should feel good
about their performance as fathers. A lot of men
do seem to be proud of their performance, what
with all the references to "new" fatherhood and
the like. At the same time, however, men are being
almost constantly told — and can see for them-
selves, if they look close enough — that their
behavior does not square with the ideal, which
means that they are being reminded on a regular
basis that they are failing as fathers. Failing not
when compared with their own fathers or grand-
fathers perhaps, but failing when compared with
the image of fatherhood which has become part of
our culture and which they, on some level of
consciousness, believe in.
I would hypothesize that, given the asynchrony
between the culture and conduct of fatherhood, the
number of fathers who feel ambivalent and, to a
certain extent, guilty about their performance as
fathers has increased over the past three genera-
tions. I would also hypothesize that, given it is the
middle class which has been primarily responsible
for the changes in the culture of fatherhood, it is the
middle-class fathers who are likely to feel the most
ambivalent and suffer the most guilt.
Some may argue that the parental anxiety that men
are beginning to experience is all for the better, that
they now may start feeling bad enough about their
performance to really change. This argument does
have merit. Yes, one positive outcome of asynchro-
nous social change is that ultimately men may
become not only more involved with their children
but also more sensitive to what it is like to be a
mother. After all, for a long time women have
worried about their performance as parents. It
should not be forgotten, however, that the guilt
which many women experience as mothers (and
which has been the subject of numerous novels,
plays, and films) has not always been healthy for
mothers — or families. In sum, when it comes to
parenthood, today it would appear that both men
and women can be victims as well as benefactors of
Fatherhood is different today than it was in prior
times but, for the most part, the changes that have
occurred are centered in the culture rather than in
the conduct of fatherhood. Whatever changes have
taken place in the behavior of fathers, on the basis
of what we know now, seem to be minimal at best.
More people need to be made aware of the fact that
the division of child care in America has not signifi-
cantly changed, that — despite the beliefs that
fathers are a lot more involved with their chil-
dren — mothers remain, far and away, the primary
Ralph LaRossa ia an Associate Professor in the Department of
Sociology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303.
This article has been condensed from "Fatherhood and Social
Change", Family Relations, October 1988, 37, 451457.
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New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity
(pp. 83-97). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Rotundo, E.A. (1985). American fatherhood: A histor-
ical perspective. American Behavioral Scientist,
Straus, M., Gelles, R.J., & Steinmetz, S.K. (1980).
Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American
Family. New York: Anchor/Doubleday .
Zerubavel, E. (1979). Patterns of Time in Hospital
Life: A Sociological Perspective. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
THE TRUE SELF, THE FALSE SELF
AND MALE SEX ROLE
D. W. Winnicott offered two very powerful con-
cepts, the true self and the false self, to explain a
paradox: as we strive to please others and become
good at intuiting the needs of others, we put
ourselves at risk for losing our own uniqueness
and for failing to respond to our own creative
impulses. The concepts of the true self and the
false self draw attention to this dilemma and are
particularly relevant vis-a-vis the role expectations
for males in this society.
Let me begin by defining the true self and the false
self. Very simply, the true self embodies those
activities and attributes that are playful, enjoyable
and meaningful while the false self is that part of
us that conforms to the requirements of others in
order to fit in and get ahead. Life is, of course, an
optimal mixture of the two; and problems arise
when we strive to "fit in" at the expense of being
able to be playful, original and funloving.
While the development of a false self is, of course,
a matter of degree, it is important to note that we
are dealing with an insidious process in which the
organizations and institutions to which we belong
reward us handsomely for conforming to the
needs of those organizations and institutions. We
sometimes find ourselves, in contrast, in hot water
if we swim against the current or operate as a
maverick or as someone who follows one's own
Given all of the above, I'd like to take this idea of
the true/false self one step further by positing the
following hypothesis: the demands of significant
organizations and institutions (home, school, the
work place, the "play" places [clubs, organiza-
tions, etc.]) convey expectations vis-a-vis the male
role that change with each stage of the human life
cycle, creating a new and different challenge in
terms of the true self /false self dilemma at each
stage of the life cycle.
We know, for example, that parents respond
differently to male and female infants, supporting
the notion that parents, indeed, have expectations
for male infants that vary from the expectations
for female infants. We know that teachers have
differing expectations based on sex differentiation
that, in turn, influence the development of social,
emotional and even cognitive capacities in their
students. Teachers, for example, generally expect
girls to struggle with math while expecting boys to
find math easier. Teachers also tolerate more
aggressive behavior in boys while subtly — and not
so subtly — reinforcing less aggressive behaviors in
Battersea Park Boating Attendant,
Martin Lueders, 1989.
Clubs and extra-curricular activities for boys are
subtly different than those for girls, emphasizing
mastery of concrete and specific tasks over
"softer" activities such as social service projects. In
high school, those same clubs and organizations
emphasize the physical dimension, the athletic
prowess, of the male adolescent, rewarding those
adolescents who lead the football team or win the
state swim championship.
We see the true/false dilemma evident in high
school in those situations in which an adolescent
boy must hide his academic brightness or place it
carefully in the shadow of athletic accomplish-
ments. We have deprecating names for those
adolescents who somehow miss the message that
there are norms vis-a-vis fitting in; and we, in
turn, label those adolescents "nerds," "chess
jocks," "egg heads," etc.
In the workplace, men get ahead by conforming
and by anticipating the boss's needs and meeting
those needs. And in some work arenas, play and
work become intertwined with certain "play"
skills required to move ahead in the work organi-
zation. When the President jogs or plays tennis,
suddenly his cabinet must also jog or play tennis!
Similarly, within the home environment, the
"softer" man — the one who performs the tradi-
tional "feminine" chores such as childcare activi-
ties and housework — is deprecated and regarded,
I think, with some suspicion. A wimp. A moma's
As noted above, the true/false self dilemma is one
of degree and balance, and the question for both
men and women is, of course, how can we pre-
serve that playful and creative part of ourselves
while facilitating the goals and objectives of the
social units to which we belong. The first part of
this question is probably the harder part — at least
from my vantage point. As Marion Milner asked,
can we turn 'round fast enough to catch the
playful moment before it eludes us?
There was an essay in The New York Times some
time ago by an author whose name I no longer
remember. The author, a woman and a journalist,
noted that she had always adhered to deadlines in
college and in the workplace, producing articles in
a timely fashion. A colleague of hers, on the other
hand, was typically late with his work, never
willing to hand it in if it hadn't quite jelled and
always needing to get the complete story at the
expense of missing deadlines. His transgressions
for lateness were somehow overlooked or forgiven
because the resulting story was usually quite
good; and while this author was rewarded for her
timeliness by a promotion to editor (where she
now waits for others to meet the deadlines which
she imposes), her colleague is still chasing exciting
stories, following his own nose. He wasn't pro-
moted, but he also has the more fulfiling job —
from this author's perspective.
One final point is this: the male individual with a
healthy true self may, at times, seem somewhat
out-of-step with his peers. As he follows his own
nose, there may be some tension within the social
units to which he belongs. While this seems
obvious, it is important to stress that, in health,
there can be some tension in social relationships.
Those models of mental health that strive to make
social relationships as conflict-free as possible
need to find a place for the notion of a true self
and the resulting tension that might follow as that
true self strives for expression.
In summary, Winnicott's concepts of the true self
and the false self suggest a need for an appropriate
mix of the two. There is an insidious danger of a
false self that becomes so predominant that there
is little room for expression of the true self. Addi-
tionally, each stage of the life cycle presents its
own particular version of true/ false self chal-
lenges; and those true/false self dilemmas get
played out differently for men and women. Fi-
nally, in health we often experience tension in
social relationships and within social units as each
of us has moments when we march to our own
drummer. We need a model of mental health that
allows for a concept like the true self, with its
resultant moments of discord in human relation-
ships; and we need a model of mental health that
recognizes the dangers of an overdeveloped false
Or. Nador is a psychotherapist in private practice in
Evanston, Illinois. Her Psy.D. degree is from the Illinois
School of Professional Psychology.
Milner, Marion. (1987) On not being able to paint. London:
Winnicott, D. W. (1965). The maturatioml processes and the
facilitating environment. New York: International Universities
PREGNANT DREAMS: THE
SECRET LIFE OF THE EXPECTANT
Alan B. Siegel
On the night after his wife's pregnancy was
confirmed, David, a 35 year old environmental
planner, had a vivid dream. He dreamed that he
came upon a pair of radioactive glasses that were
not supposed to be touched. Nevertheless, he felt
compelled to look through them and when he did,
he felt like he was looking through the eyes of
what seemed to be another "being." As he gazed
through the eyes, he felt as if he were floating in
an outer space environment.
David, like most expectant fathers, was deeply
moved by the news of his wife's pregnancy. At
first, David had no idea what the dream symbol-
ized; he suspected only that it might be related to
the news of the pregnancy. As he shared the
dream with me and we explored the images and
feelings that emerged, David suddenly realized
that in his dream, he was seeing the world
through the eyes of his unborn child.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, many
expectant fathers have dreams that appear to
portray the experience of the fetus in the womb.
Underwater dreams of old-fashioned scuba divers
with umbilical cord-like hoses attached to them
are not uncommon. These early pregnancy dreams
strongly suggest that a man's unconscious identifi-
cation with his child and his conscious feelings of
empathy for his child, powerfully affect his experi-
ence of involvement in the pregnancy.
The pregnancy of the expectant father is a psycho-
logical one. Beginning with the confirmation of the
pregnancy, his inner life becomes fertile. As the
pregnancy progresses, his dream images chronicle
the growth of an inner attachment to his child,
changes in his marital relationship and the gesta-
tion and birth of a new identity as a father.
Long before men are consciously aware of how
deeply affected they are by their wives' preg-
nancy, their dreams are portraying powerful
responses to becoming a father. In this article I will
examine how recurring dream themes suggest a
universal dimension to the inner changes that men
undergo during pregnancy. Greater awareness of
the expectant father's hitherto "secret" emotional
conflicts and changes can help men feel more
included and more secure about the importance of
their role in pregnancy and parenting and to forge
a closer alliance with their wife and child.
Men's involvement in the birth process has in-
creased dramatically in little more than two
decades. In 1970, a Texas man who had been
excluded from the birth of his first two children
handcuffed himself to his wife to ensure that he
would not be barred from the birth of their third
child. By the early 1970s, the ban on fathers being
present at birth was changing and 27% of fathers
were attending the birth of their children. In July
1983, a Gallup Poll indicated that 79% of men were
present at the birth of their children. By 1990, over
90% of fathers were attending the birth of their
child in hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Suddenly, the doors to the delivery room have
been opened up to fathers.
Unfortunately, appreciation and support for the
unique emotional needs of the expectant father
has not paralleled the increase in father involve-
ment in labor and delivery. We are so dazzled by
the technological advances in diagnosing and
monitoring pregnancy risks (such as amniocente-
sis, chorionic villae sampling and ultrasound
monitoring) that we have forgotten to pay ad-
equate attention to the psychological aspects of
With the breakdown of the crucial emotional
support of the extended family and the need and
desire of women to return to work relatively soon
after the birth of a child, the role of the father must
become something more than that of an emotion-
ally distant breadwinner. In order to become more
nurturing and involved with their partners and
their children, men need education and emotional
support for taking on more fathering roles. Preg-
nancy is a critical period for men to increase their
psychological attachment to their unborn child.
Yet, there is a conspiracy of silence against affirm-
ing and supporting the emotional stages of becom-
ing a father.
Due to the lack of thorough studies of the psycho-
logical stages of becoming a father, I conducted
the first systematic study of expectant fathers'
dreams in 1981-82. 1 have continued to collect
dreams from expectant fathers and mothers since
that time through my work as a clinical psycholo-
gist and through my research for my book Dreams
that Can Change Your Life: Navigating Life Passages
Through Turning Point Dreams (Los Angeles:
Jeremy Tarcher Inc., 1991).
In my initial research, I collected two-week dream
journals from 33 first-time expectant fathers; one-
half were in the first two trimesters of pregnancy
and the other half were in the final trimester. The
dreams of the expectant fathers were compared to
the dreams of a matched control group of men
who were not fathers and were not considering
parenthood. A formal dream content analysis was
used that was based upon the method developed
by Calvin Hall and Robert Van de Castle.
There were many highly significant differences
between the dreams of the expectant fathers and
the non-fathers. The expectant fathers' dreams
were replete with vivid imagery of fertility, preg-
nancy, birth, and babies as well as with many
graphic sexual and homosexual encounters and
dreams of wild celebratory birthday parties. Their
dreams were also filled with references to feeling
left out and rejected, suggesting a sense of not
feeling included in the pregnancy experience. ]
When compared with men whose wives were
close to delivery, the dreams of men whose wives
were in the first half of pregnancy had signifi-
cantly more sexual themes, as well as more macho
characters and behaviors and more cars and
vehicles. This demonstrated that men's uncon-
scious responses to pregnancy are activated early
in the pregnancy, when they are not consciously
aware that they have been impacted.
MEN'S DREAMS AND THE STAGES OF
Men's dream themes ran an evolutionary course
as the stages of pregnancy progressed. Whereas
early pregnancy dreams featured images of the
fetus floating in womb-like environments, late
pregnancy dreams depicted a preoccupation with
the birth process and with the experience of the
Late in pregnancy, one man dreamed that while
he was fishing, a large bubble emerged from
underwater and out of it popped a furry animal
that had lived underwater for a long time. An-
other third-trimester pregnant father dreamed that
he escaped from a cave through a hole that
opened up during an earthquake. A third man
dreamed late in pregnancy that he was swimming
downhill, leading a race that was coached by his
Lamaze teacher. He won the race and emerged
into a locker room, where he was wrapped in a
towel. Despite the transparent symbolism of the
fetus traveling down the birth canal and emerging
at birth, none of these three men spontaneously
linked their dream to pregnancy or birth. They
were all surprised and delighted when I suggested
the possible connection of the dreams to the birth
process and to their emotional involvement with
the pregnancy and their child.
SEXUAL ADVENTURE DREAMS
Sexual dreams are extremely common throughout
pregnancy but especially so early in the preg-
nancy. Many sex dreams portrayed men feeling
rejected or inhibited sexually. Other dreams
portrayed exotic liaisons or homosexual fears or
One expectant father, Frank, had erotic dreams
that portrayed adulterous desires.
The Alarm in My Wedding Ring
I am being approached by a voluptuous Black
woman. I can tell she wants to seduce me and I am
very tempted. All of a sudden, I know lam in
trouble. An alarm goes off and I think it's my
watch, but when I look I realize the alarm is on my
wedding ring and I have to get home to my wife.
When Frank's wedding ring alarm goes off, he is
torn between sexual desires and his loyalty to his
wife. For weeks he had been preoccupied with his
own sexual fantasies and physical symptoms set
off by the pregnancy. At the same time, he was
anxious about his increased responsibililies as a
nurturer and provider for his wife and child.
Frank's Sexual Adventure Dreams did not inspire
him to pursue extramarital sex. Rather Frank felt
that his sexual dreams were related to a feeling of
sexual neediness on his part. He recognized that in
the past an increase in sexual fantasies had related
to a need to be taken care of and given attention.
He felt that his wife had been preoccupied with
other aspects of the pregnancy and had rejected
him sexually during the first trimester when they
had both been feeling ill.
Frank came to see that the alarm was meant to
wake him out of his own neediness, his physical
and sexual preoccupations, and to focus on im-
proving his marriage so that they could be pre-
pared for the arrival of the baby. When he shared
his dreams and fantasies with his wife, she was
able to understand what he'd been going through
and they were able to re-establish a greater feeling
of closeness that they had both been missing.
Sexual dreams reflect men's responses to the
changing patterns of sexual expression during
pregnancy. Despite the so-called sexual revolu-
tion, men and women still have difficulty in
openly discussing important changes in their
sexual relationship. Encouranging men and
couples to understand their sex dreams during
pregnancy will help to prevent feelings of rejection
and alienation that often develop. It is important
for channels of communication and intimate
expression to remain open, even if lovemaking
decreases at certain stages of pregnancy.
MALE PREGNANCY DREAMS
Studies of physical and psychological symptoms
that men experience during pregnancy have
shown that many men experience what is known
as the Couvade Syndrome, which mimics preg-
nancy. Studies by Jacqueline Clinton, a professor
of nursing at the University of Wisconsin, have
shown that over 90% of expectant fathers experi-
ence one or more Couvade symptoms, such as
weight gain, nausea, stomach bloating, food
cravings, fatigue, and irritability. 2
More pronounced cases with multiple symptoms
may occur in approximately 10-30% of expectant
fathers. These symptoms are considered to be
characteristic of the pregnant female, yet some
men have more of them than their wives.
Anthropologists who study primitive cultures
have found widespread evidence of Couvade
rituals, which engage expectant fathers in elabo-
rate dietary and behavioral practices that mimic
aspects of pregnancy. In some cases, the men
would actually go into huts and simulate the pain
of labor. These rituals are thought to be a form of
sympathetic magic — a way of distracting and
fooling any evil spirits and thus protecting the
wife. In addition, Couvade rituals establish that
the man is indeed the father and give him an
important role to play in the pregnancy and birth.
In our culture, we have few roles or rites of pas-
sage to help men understand and integrate the
experience of becoming a father. Without
Couvade rituals, it appears that men's unfulfilled
wishes for involvement are converted into an
unconscious male version of pregnancy.
Some men dream that they are actually pregnant
or giving birth. Alex, a 33-year-old engineer, felt
he was having difficulty accepting the reality of
the pregnancy. Even after the baby began to move,
he did not feel like the pregnancy had made much
of an impact on him. Late in the second trimester
It's My Baby
lam standing on a street corner carrying my baby
fetus under my shirt against my chest. I have my
hands cupped over the fetus to protect it. It is
moving and people ask what it is. I say it's my
baby! Someone tries to smash the fetus by hitting
my chest. I become enraged at the person and pick
him up and throw him into the street.
The powerful feeling of protectiveness in this
dream occurs in many expectant fathers' dreams.
Alex is not only pregnant out in public, he is ready
to fiercely defend his baby against threats. Alex
did not ordinarily remember his dreams. He was
surprised by the intensity of his protective feelings
and by the fact that he was pregnant in the dream.
After exploring his feelings, Alex realized that he
may have been denying some of his reactions to
the pregnancy because he felt that he should be
the strong one to help out with his wife while she
When a man's protective fantasies are acknowl-
edged, he is likely to feel gratified by becoming
consciously aware of his protective instincts and
may be more inclined to express his involvement
through more active conscious involvement with
his wife and child.
LEFT OUT DREAMS
One of the most common issues in expectant
fathers' dreams are themes of feeling left out,
misunderstood, deprived, or threatened in other
ways. These dreams reveal old wounds and
sensitivities to rejection that are reopened by fears
about being displaced by the arrival of the baby.
Joel had increased his hours at work to try to make
more money to pay for the expenses of his child.
When Joel's wife was five months pregnant, he
had a troubling dream which took place during a
baseball game at Candlestick Park in San Fran-
Ban ished To The Back of the Stadium
In the middle of the game, 1 get up to get some beer.
When I return, I can't find my seat. I look around
for a new one, but many of the women in the stands
are pregnant, and they are taking up two seats. I
have to go to the back of the stadium and stand. I
am very annoyed.
Joel was upset and puzzled by this dream. He
wasn't much of a sports fan, and he generally
avoided beer and alcohol because his father had a
"The feeling I have in this dream is that of being
left out. There is no room for me with all these
huge pregnant women."
Joel was able to laugh at the absurdity of a sta-
dium full of pregnant women crowding him out
Even in the generally male domain of beer and
baseball, he felt like an outcast, rejected and forced
to the back of the stadium. Exploring this dream
helped Joel to understand that he was having a
strong emotional reaction to his wife's pregnancy.
Despite Joel's positive conscious reaction to
becoming a father, he was feeling excluded by his
wife, which is a painful phase of pregnancy that
many men suffer through. The message of the
dream was not about baseball; it was about Joel's
sense of exclusion and his need to find more ways
to be involved in the pregnancy and planning for
After discussing the dream, Joel was able to
express his left-out feelings more directly with his
wife. They decided that he would cut back on
some of the overtime hours at work so that he
could spend more time with her and be more
involved in preparations for the baby's arrival.
ENDANGERED BABY DREAMS
One of the most common dreams for both expect-
ant fathers and mothers is what I called Endan-
gered Baby dreams. Even if you don't consider
yourself superstitious, having a dream about a
deformed or injured baby is likely to induce a
feeling of worry or panic. Although these dreams
are quite common and usually not a danger sign,
nightmares about endangered babies can leave an
emotional residue of anxiety and even depression.
Joel, whose "left out" dream we discussed above,
had listened to his wife talk about her fears of
giving birth to a Down Syndrome child. Joel was
sympathetic but didn't pay much attention. He
figures that at thirty-one, she wasn't really at risk
according to the statistics he had read. Early in the
second trimester of his wife's pregnancy , Joel had
the following dream:
T)\e Clinic for Retarded Children
I am in a medical clinic where everyone speaks
Spanish. I am on a lengthy tour of the place and am
being shown new techniques to deal with mentally
retarded children. I am saddened but very relieved
that our own baby, who is now a year old, was born
normal. I want to get out of the place, but the
director drones on and on and I don't want to
Joe's dream helped him to accept the fact that he,
too, was fearful about something being wrong
with the baby. Although Joel's Deformed Baby
dream appears to be reassuring him that his baby
will be normal, it also clearly shows his anxiety.
As in many pregnancy dreams of both men and
women, Joe's baby is not a newborn. Seeing your
child as a few months or even a few years old in
pregnancy dreams is usually associated with an
attempt to skip the anxiety associated with the
danger of labor, as well as the fears about adjust-
ing to the early weeks of parenting a newborn.
Joel was perplexed about why everyone was
speaking Spanish. He realized it had something to
do with the way he felt about pregnancy. He felt
out of place when he and his wife took a tour of
the maternity ward and when they went to the
obstetrician's office. He felt as if he were an out-
sider in a foreign country.
Joel felt that this dream helped him to acknowl-
edge his fears and his feeling of being an outsider.
By being consciously aware of these issues, Joel
became more assertive about being involved as the
pregnancy progressed. He insisted on going to all
of the doctor visits. He went to the classes at the
hospital, and he talked more to other friends who
Paying careful attention to dreams with deformed
or endangered babies can help both expectant
fathers and mothers to identify fears that are
difficult to admit consciously. It can be deeply
reassuring to know that the fears and nightmares
that afflict us are part of a normal process of
psychological preparation for parenthood.
PARTY AND CELEBRATION DREAMS
A dramatic feature of expectant fathers' dreams
throughout pregnancy is the appearance of par-
ties, celebrations, and what appear to be initiation
ceremonies related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Over half the expectant fathers in my study had a
Party and Celebration dream (as compared with
only one incidence of this kind of dream in my
comparison group). These were slightly more
common, earlier in the pregnancy.
An especially notable feature of Party and Cel-
ebration dreams is that many of them feature
birthday parties. These dreams also depicted
elaborate food preparation, eating and drinking,
water imagery and relationships with masculine
or macho figures. Some of these dreams were
associated with the completion of a creative
project, such as a man who dreamed about a big
party to celebrate a writing project that he had just
One man dreamed about a big circle dance in a
Chinese restaurant which suddenly switched to a
hospital labor room. Another man, Gavin, had a
dream which had the quality of a ritual designed
to initiate him into the role of fatherhood.
I am watching people all around me dance and play.
I am not seen or heard. A group comes near me and
all play ceases. This group seems to have control
over all. I like them. Their energy is high and has a
calming effect of me. They come to me, surround
me. One of them comes over to me and gives me a
bundle. It is a baby.
At first, Gavin felt left out. The part of the dream
when he was not seen or heard made him remem-
ber painful feelings of exclusion that he had felt
earlier in the pregnancy. In addition, it made him
recall other times in his life when he had felt
excluded from groups or other relationships.
Gavin was the middle child in a family of ten. As
he explored the dream, he wondered if it related
in some way to memories of the birth of his four
younger siblings. For Gavin, this dream may be an
example of an early childhood birth fantasy. If this
were true, the dream would represent an attempt
to understand and identify with the experience of
childbirth, while at the same time working out
early memories of being confused and displaced
by the arrival of new siblings.
At the end of the dream, Gavin is surrounded in
womb-like fashion and given a baby. He felt that
this part of the dream was telling him that he had
worked out earlier feelings of alienation from his
wife and the pregnancy. At this point, he was
feeling extremely excited and ready to take on the
role of father.
The lack of adequate roles and rituals to confirm
their inclusion and importance causes expectant
fathers to feel anxious about where they fit in.
Parties are associated with important turning
points such as birthdays, graduations, weddings,
and accomplishments. They usually involve a
sense of specialness or sacredness apart from
mundane routines. The preponderance of Party
and Celebration dreams reflect an unconscious
awareness of the specialness and importance of
becoming a father. In their Party and Celebration
dreams, most men create unconscious rites of
passage to express the excitement of becoming a
Awareness of dreams can help men to convert
their unconscious emotional reactions and fears of
being excluded into an energetic involvement with
the events of the pregnancy and the preparations
for nurturing the baby. It is especially important
that men be encouraged to participate in prenatal
classes, obstetric visits, genetic counseling and
amniocentesis, shopping for the baby's needs,
even coed baby showers and other celebratory
In addition, health and mental health profession-
als need education regarding the important psy-
chological development that expectant fathers
undergo. Knowledge about dreams, fantasies and
the intense emotions experienced by expectant
fathers will help to impress upon health profes-
sionals the need for providing relevant prenatal
educational, psychological and medical services
for fathers and couples.
Dream sharing in prenatal support groups for men
and/or couples or individual dream discussion in
counseling sessions or prenatal medical visits
could provide a useful adjunct to existing inter-
ventions. Dream discussions can help to increase
rapport with expectant fathers, increase their
awareness of involvement in the pregnancy and
alert health professionals to pressing emotional
issues and conflicts for the expectant father and
for the couple.
Encouraging expectant fathers to remember and
creatively explore the images in their dreams will
help them to break the cultural taboo against
knowing their feelings. The graphic images in
expectant fathers' dreams such as being pregnant
themselves, undergoing a birth experience, feeling
excluded by wife and child and celebrating birth-
day parties, provide convincing evidence to the
fathers that they have a profound involvement in
An invisible drama unfolds in the dreams of
expectant fathers. When we make this drama
visible, by remembering and sharing dreams
together, we can help men enhance their psycho-
logical readiness for fatherhood and strengthen
their emotional attachment to their wife and
Dr. Siegel is a licensed psychologist with a clinical practice in
Berkeley, California. His book Dreams That Change Your Life:
Navigating Life Passages Through Turning Point Dreams (Los
Angeles: Jeremy Tarcher, Inc., 1991 ), features chapters on the
dreams of expectant fathers and mothers as well as dreams at
other key transitions including marriage, separation, career
change, illness, trauma, grief and approaching death.
(1) Alan Siegel. Pregnant Dreams: Developmental Processes in
the Manifest Dreams of Expectant Fathers. (Ann Arbor: Univer-
sity of Microfilm International, 1983)
(2) Jacqueline Clinton. "Expectant Fathers At Risk for
Couvade." Nursing Research. (Volume 35, Number 5,
September/October 1986), pages 290-295.
A WOMEN'S NEWS JOURNAL
2423 18th St NW,
Washington DC 20009
MEN GIVING BIRTH
Art Schmaltz & Waud Kracke
For a number of years Waud Kracke has been
doing anthropological research with the
Parintintin Indians, a Kagwahiv speaking people
who live on the east bank of the Madeira River, a
southern tributary of the Amazon. In the course of
doing field research, the myth of men giving birth
was related to professor Kracke: "It was first
related to me by Catarina, the wife of the old chief
Paulmo who told me a lot of the myths I have
recorded. When I asked Paulino himself to narrate
it, he appeared embarrassed, and told me an
extremely short version, but finally I obtained the
essential theme of the myth as follows: "In ances-
tral times it was the men who gave birth to chil-
dren, but Bahira - a creative deity and jokester -
taking note of certain anatomical problems which
arise, turned the birthing of children over to
This myth of men giving birth appears simple in
structure, however it is rich in interpretive impli-
cations. One can utilize two basic approaches at
understanding the myth of men giving birth. This
myth can be understood as a symbolic or narrative
expression of the internal dynamics of a specific
culture, in this case the Parintintin. For example,
one could explore the way this myth prescribes
gender relationships, orders social rules and
statuses, subtends institutional structures in
Parintintin society. The myth of men giving birth
can also be explored from a cross-cultural or
human universal perspective. In this paper we
will choose the latter and leave the issue of
Parintintin specific understanding of this myth for
In approaching the story of men giving birth, the
perspective will be used that has been employed
in Waud Kracke's previous papers, on "Parintintin
Mourning". Anthropologists may legitimately ask
"to what extent are the configurations of emo-
tional experience that we consider essentially
human indeed constant across humankind?"
(Kracke 1981, 1988.)
It appears that men in every culture have to
psychologically accommodate the fundamental
reality that women birth children. This basic
asymmetry can be psychologically counterbal-
anced by constructing alternate realities or sym-
bolic constructs utilizing myth and religion as a
vehicle for achieving these ends. When men have
considerable political and religious authority the
myth of men giving birth,and its variations, often
take on the status of official truth. Hindus, for
example, have a variant of this myth whereby
women achieve final salvation only through being
reborn as male.
As we shall see, the myth of men giving birth
recurs with enough frequency across cultures and
across time to suggest that a universal drama may
be concretized in this particular story. In the
emotional life of humankind, specifically the
human male's emotional development, there may
be a psychological need for this fantasy of men
giving birth. Myths of the omnipotence surround-
ing male masturbation are common. From the
Pyramid Texts we learn that the ancient Egyptian
priests present the myth of the male god Atum
who began the work of natural creation. The myth
relates how the male deity accomplishes procre-
ation through masturbation which thus birthed
Tefnut and Shu.
In the natural history of life on this planet,
nature's invention of the male sex was a late
experiment. And this awareness of the primacy of
the female's procreative potential also finds
expression in the myths and rituals in many
cultures. The ethnographic literature is rich in
accounts of how males attempt to emulate,
through ritual, aspects of female reproductive
reality. In some societies the male circumcision
ritual is aimed at reproducing the image of the
menstruating woman - bleeding from the genitals.
Female physiology can be seen as the prototypical
core that spawns a variety of rituals.
Bruno Bettelheim in his book Symbolic Wounds
deals with the roles these symbols play in our
psychic and social lives. He describes the play
behavior of boys in our culture in which he ob-
served boys cutting themselves as part of a game.
These were boys approaching adolescence or were
beginning adolescence. These young males spon-
taneously created a ritual game in which they
created an initiation or rite of passage. The boys
were using the rite of bloodletting as the central
event in their invented ritual. Indeed, adolescent
male rites of passage, world wide, utilize real or
symbolic blood as a central image.
Girls have a clear indication of a passage to sexual
maturity at menarchy. Cultures often invent a
male rite of passage utilizing symbols to duplicate
a similar image. Blood letting is important in so
many male initiation rites across a diverse field of
cultures that we can suggest that female reproduc-
tive processes serve an essential element in the
generation of these rites. Generally these blood
letting rituals define a male as having become an
adult by using the female as the prototype.
Freud's notion of penis envy can be stood on its
head. Womb envy or the longing by males to
reduplicate through ritual the sexual and procre-
ative powers of women seems to recur as we
examine the ethnographic literature.
In Freud's classic case study, Little Hans, there was
something Freud apparently didn't see. Waud
Kracke offers the study of Little Hans in many of
his anthropology classes as he has become increas-
ingly aware that there was something,
perhaps,universal, going on in the dynamics of
Hans' phobias - especially his fear of horses —
which generalized to agoraphobia. The phobia
started shortly after his little sister was born. At
this point Hans began to show a certain obsessive-
ness with nurturing behaviors — with taking care
of little children. He talked possessively of "my
Hans would ponder what makes a child your
child. He would play at being a parent, speaking
of younger playmates as "my children." At the
time of his little sister's birth he noticed blood in
his mother's bedpan. He comments "blood
doesn't come out of my penis." Hans had a little
doll and he would drop a knife through the legs to
recreate the process of birth.
With Little Hans we can see in the creation of his
symptoms and in his anxieties how certain life
events become problematic and unresolved.
Around the time of his sister's birth his mother
caught him masturbating. Hans was admonished
with the common threat "If you don't stop that I'll
have the doctor come and cut it off." At first he
didn't take it seriously; his response at first was,
'Then I'll widdle with my bottom." But then came
his sister's birth, and the observation of blood in
the bedpan. Some time later he had a
tonsilectomy, where the doctor did indeed come
and remove a part of his body. It was after this
operation that his phobia set in in earnest. So
there were three events of which the childbirth
was the central event along with the images of
bloodletting that triggered the symptom forma-
tion. The creation of this fantasy structure or
personal myth began to organize Hans' emotional
and thought process.
Hans' interest in the differences between men and
women led him to theorize that at some time both
sexes have penises - and he must have pondered
"when do women lose their penises?" He believes
that childbirth is somehow implicated in the loss
of the penis and that what creates the woman is
childbirth. Childbirth has tremendous power, it is
very desirable, but at the same time you have to
trade something for it, You have to lose some-
thing for it, so he imagined. Freud's case history
of Little Hans may reveal something more than an
individual boy's symptom formation. All little
boys must, as part of their emotional develop-
ment, create a fantasy or a mythology about the
birthing process. The case history of Little Hans
may be intriguing because it may hint at a general
developmental model of the mind whereby the
male child, even at an early age, must maintain
some narcissistic balance, a psychological compen-
sation of creating powerful myths and fantasies to
counter the mystery and power of the female
When males have the political and social power to
control social and religious institutions these
intrapsychic fantasies often become concretized
into established religious structure and ritual. In
medieval Europe before the advent of genetic
inheritance was understood, Christian scholars
and theologians often depicted the mystery of
procreation in drawings. Human conception was
depicted in a male-centric fashion. The male
ejaculate was fantasied as containing minute but
fully formed human phenotypes. And using the
agriculture model, the woman was just the soil in
which the male "seed" was planted. One may
wonder if residuals of this once common belief are
present today among fundamentalist religious
believers who seem to hold to a peculiar image of
biologicial conception: A fully developed human
morphology is imagined to be present at concep-
Men giving birth is given its most powerful
expression in Genesis in the Old Testament. The
myth of Adam's rib is adequate testament to show
that the image of "men giving birth" is still a vital
and powerful myth in contemporary Western
cultures. In this story the male, Adam, was the
first human. In an approximation of man giving
birth, his rib was the symbolic fetus that resulted
in the procreation of Eve.
In this story God places Adam in a "deep sleep"
before extracting the necessary procreative tissue
in the form of a rib. (One might note that in this
birthing, the male was spared the pain, intensity,
and physical effort of the labor process that
Dominant cultural myths, such as Adam's rib,
have ways of expressing themselves in varied and
complex ways in a society. One can speculate how
the story of Adam's rib manifests itself in our
culture. For the male the allure and power of men
giving birth in the Bible might well carry over into
obstetric practices in this and in other Western
The systematic elimination of midwifery and the
historical struggle of men to dominate obstetrics is
certainly well documented. Within this male-
dominated obstetric system one can view some
less than scientific peculiarities. The notion of men
controlling and giving birth (albeit in fantasy) may
have some power to explain some of the "blood-
letting" that goes on in the field of obstetrics.
Many birthing interventions seem to have little
medical justification. Although declining in prac-
tice, the pattern of sedating and "putting to sleep"
the mother during birthing was a common prac-
tice with little medical justification, but appears to
recapitulate the Genesis story. The 90%
episiotomy rate, and the 25% cesarean section rate
(some male obstetricians having a 50% cesarean
section rate) has little medical justification, but
does appear to be a powerful mythic re-enact-
ment. The Father-God-Doctor renders the woman
unconscious - makes the surgical wound and he
"takes" the baby.
As it is with the Hindu myth that final salvation is
male-centric, there is in our culture a major
mythological compensation to counter the actual
reality that women birth children. The central
religious event among evangelical Christians
centers on the "born again" image. Being born
again takes on a completely masculine image. One
is born again, only this time not born of woman,
but a rebirthing and reparenting out of the male
matrix. The myth of men giving birth is achieved
through the dual masculine icons, Jesus Christ and
God the Father: "No one can come to the Father
except through me."
To conclude: The widespread occurrence of the
myth of men giving birth gives us an indication
that the issue of the birthing of children is not an
insignificant issue for men. It appears that men in
all societies strive to psychologically accommodate
through myth and ritual the mystery of birth.
From the fantasy life of Little Hans to the myth of
the Parintintin, to the male striving for control of
the birthing process in modern obstetrics, birth is
an issue for men. But men do not birth children,
and it seems that Freud's insight is correct: the
wishful nature of the primary process will create
in fantasy the desired but missing reality.
Waud H. Kracke is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the
University of Illinois in Chicago.
Bettelheim, Bruno. 1962. Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites a
The Envious Male. New York: Collier.
Kracke, Waud H. 1988. "Kagwahiv Mourning II: Ghosts,
Grief, and Reminiscences", Ethos 16(2): 209-222.
WHAT TIME IS IT?
It's half past daffodil time.
When I got up with the dawning,
Suddenly I knew
It's lilac o'clock,
But half past daffodil.
It will be peonies in a week or two.
But when is it iris?
I forgot. Crocus is long gone.
Poppies — when are they?
Roses are a month away.
Dandelions are always.
The last article in this special men's issue on birth
and nurturing will explore an event that is specific
to males in this culture — circumcision. The cir-
cumcision of males in all cultures is a social ritual,
and one of my purposes here will be to investigate
the interactional dynamics involved, including the
gender politics and sex stereotyping that underlie
this practice. Although male circumcision would
seem to be primarily a men's issue, it is my con-
tention that this ritual has vectors pointing to-
wards women also. An interactional perspective
aims toward opening a debate into the psycho-
social dynamics that surround the infant circumci-
The framing of the issue of male circumcision as a
"ritual" allows for the widest investigatory ap-
proach to a very complex social practice. Although
current debate on male circumcision is primarily
focused on medical issues, this paper will explore
the deeper cultural dynamics at work and accept,
prima facie, the American Academy of Pediatrics
position: "There are no valid medical reasons for
routine circumcision of the newborn" (1975). In
any case, the medical claims for this surgery
remain mired in cultural presuppositions of
"hygiene." We need only remember that within
the medical profession itself circumcision became
popular because the procedure was touted as a
Male circumcision as a cultural practice long
predates modern medical practice. Cross-cultural
studies show that male circumcision, and other
rituals of genital mutilation are common occur-
rences in world cultures, and in many cultures,
the most significant social ceremony. Social rituals
can serve to liberate or constrain the human spirit.
Male circumcision as "ritual" seems to fall into the
latter category. By exploring the less than benign
or dark side of this ritual practice, both a cultural
critique and therapeutic are implied.
Joseph Birdsell's (1953) classic study reveals that
one of the social functions of male circumcision
was to serve as a population control device —
circumcision as a form of infanticide. Because the
deaths from the surgical wound generally oc-
curred long after the ceremony, and as a result of
infection, with only a percentage of infants dying,
the children's deaths could be attributed to the
whims of the gods and not through human
agency. Even today with all the advantages of
modern medicine, the surgical procedure is not
without risk. One in every 500 infants suffers
serious complications from this surgery. We surely
cannot include "infanticide" as one of our
culture's motives for the popularity of this ritual,
but, as I hope to demonstrate, the continuation of
this practice may reflect something of this society's
general indifference to infant pain and suffering.
Our infant mortality ranking is 18th in the world
and that is saying something about our society's
lack of concern for the newborn.
Birdsell's research linked the practice of circumci-
sion to ecological dynamics. Marginal ecologies,
both natural and man-made, required the subse-
quent need for severe population control mea-
sures. What is relevant are the historical origins of
the circumcision ritual in this society. The reli-
gious roots of the ritual are Judeo-Christian and
arose in the Middle East. Today, male circumci-
sion is almost universal in the Middle East re-
gions. The marginal environments and low rainfall
of this region would seem to bear out Birdsell's
ecological model for this ritual's origins. I am sure
that some families might reconsider this ritual act
if they knew that the historical origins of circumci-
sion were grounded in infanticide.
Anthropologists have also linked this ritual prac-
tice to strong patriarchial, male-aggressive cul-
tures. It is these latter issues that I would like to
focus upon. The significant meanings of male
circumcision are not vestigial symbols from our
archaic mythological past — a living infant's body
is permanently altered by surgical means. What
does this do to the infant? What does this do to the
mother of the infant? An analysis of these ques-
tions may shed some light on what it means to be
male, and what it means to be female in our
By viewing male circumcision from the wider
perspective that is afforded by anthropology , we
can see how male circumcision and other male
specific rituals fit cross-cultural patterns. Cultures
create and promulgate specific "ideals o( man-
hood". (Men should be afforded a perspective
from which they can choose and discard these
ideals and attending rituals if they are constrain-
ing.) For the male, "trials of ordeal" are the rule
and not the exception in most cultures. Men must
show that they can endure ritualized pain, or else
they won't become men. The ethnographic litera-
ture is quite clear in demonstrating that male-
specific rituals often involve traumatization and
terror. Such devices are effective in establishing
social control, and serve as a means of imposing
cultural ideals upon the male (Gilmore 1990).
The focus on the traumatizing dimensions of male
circumcision ritual is necessary in order to reveal
this ritual's cultural force. In researching this topic
and in interviewing parents I discovered that
infant circumcision is traumatizing as a surgical
procedure, both to the infant and to his parents.
This surgicial wound can set the stage for and
initiate an enduring psychopathological relation-
Karen and Jeffery Paige argue in their text The
Politics of Reproductive Ritual that circumcision is
not necessarily directed at the person on whom
the ritual is performed, but that the ritual is per-
formed and directed mainly at "the community of
observers." The ritual is most common in patriar-
chal societies, "societies with powerful and some-
times massive fraternal interest groups, chronic
internal warfare and feuds, and tight contractual
control over women and marriage" (p. 123). The
relationship between circumcision and male
aggression and violence appears to have cross-
One group within this "communiuty of observers"
at whom circumcision is directed is women. Here
we have both anthropological and psycho-physi-
ological data indicating that circumcision is an
aggression against women. In this culture where
the ritual is performed shortly after the woman
has given birth, women are physically and emo-
tionally vulnerable, and the interaction between
mother and infant is vulnerable to disruption. The
critical interactive process of mother/infant
bonding is, or should be, taking place at this time.
To quote Donald Winnicott: "Trauma implies that
the baby has experienced a break in life's continu-
ity." Because of this intense symbiotic relation
between mother and infant, a break in the bonding
process can easily result. The infant circumcision
can affect the bonding at a number of levels,
beginning at the most fundamental biological
When women are not overmedicated during and
after the birthing process, they often describe the
reverie and intense experience of oneness with the
infant. One woman described how this changed
during the circumcision procedure: "The nurse
came and took away my baby for what I thought
was a routine procedure, but the baby that they
brought back was somehow not the same... he
cried and cried or just fussed endlessly, we didn't
seem to respond to each other in the same way
anymore, the magic was gone."
There is sufficient data showing short-term
trauma to the circumcised infant: changes in sleep
behavior, physiological stress reactions, increased
crying — behaviors that persisted three months
into the study (Richards 1979). We don't yet have
hard data on long term psychological effects on
infant or mother, but the majority of women that I
have interviewed speak of their son's circumcision
with ambivalence. Internalizing the infant's
trauma by the mother is a relevant issue for the
psychology of women. In speaking with women
on the topic, I was surprised at the depth of
unresolved feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness
that quickly surfaced when the circumcision
experience was relived — even for women whose
sons are now adult.
A most relevant event happens to the circumcision
ritual when women take back control of the
birthing process from the male-dominated medical
establishment — women stop circumcising their
infants! When women opt for control of their labor
and birthing through the homebirth option, they
also overwhelmingly choose to leave their son's
penis intact: less than 10% circumcision rate for
this group (Eisenstein).
An exploration of the traumatizing aspects of male
circumcision would not be complete without
exploring the sexual aspects of the ritual. Anthro-
pologically speaking, male circumcision is classi-
fied as one of many forms of "genital mutilation"
rituals. The controversial issue for men and
women involves the degree to which male circum-
cision can be considered a form of sexual abuse.
Do circumcised men have in their life history a
childhood sexual trauma? Sexual traumas experi-
enced in infancy and early childhood are known
to have consequences that carry over into adult
We know now that the perpetrator need not be
seeking sexual gratification, but that issues of
control are often central in sexual abuse. But
placing in abeyance for now the "motives" of the
circumcisor, we must make the empathic leap that
Donald Winnecott speakes of and consider this
ritual practice from "the infant's point of view." It
is well established that infants at birth possess all
the necessary psychological development,
memory, complex perceptual development,
interactional or social awareness to internalize a
From the infant's point of view being strapped to a
board then having one's penis manipulated then
having the foreskin cut away.. .this trauma to the
genitals is very likely stored as an early memory
for the infant. Anyone having witnessed the
procedure with the infant strapped naked and
"spread-eagled" cannot deny that the image is one
of bondage and sexual sadism. Infants, during the
initial circumcision proceedings, do tend to re-
spond to the genital stimulation. David Chamber-
lain in his infant research observed that infant
boys "had sustained erections while their legs
were strapped to the circumcision board and they
were awaiting circumcision" (Chamberlain, p. 14).
Freud's notion of "primary narcissism" has
proven to be unfounded. Infants are social, inter-
actional beings from birth. If one's first social
experience is to be sexually stimulated, then
sexually wounded, will this serve as a foundation
for latter social interactions? Will the association of
stimulation, bondage, and pain impact upon adult
sexual behavior? Indeed, if this exact ritual proce-
dure were performed on adult males, attributes of
"assault" and "rape" would define the situation.
Sketchy research indicates that many adult males
retain "motor memories" of their circumcision. My
own early research reveals a patterned behavioral
response among adult circumcised men. When the
topic of circumcision was introduced into the
discourse, the men displayed aversion behavior.
Videotaped analysis shows a common pattern of
closing and tightening of the thighs, positioning of
the hands to where they can protect the genitals,
and a constriction of the muscles in the groin in an
attempt to withdraw the penis inside for protec-
tion. This response is often tacit, or unconscious,
often with no manifest verbal avoidance state-
There is some evidence to suggest that many adult
males harbor an unresolved sexual trauma — their
circumcision. As a hypothesis this would explain
certain sociological patterns. If we view circumci-
sion as a partem or cycle of sexual abuse, certain
anomalies make sense: The number one reason
fathers give for circumcising their infants is "to
make the boy look like his dad." — the obverse is
rarely the case (Briggs 1985). Two relevant expla-
nations for this response might be: "the repetition
compulsion" — unresolved sexual conflicts and
traumas tend to be reenacted upon others: the
father must do to the boy what was done to him;
and, the "reverse self object phenomenon", this is
a pathological interaction whereby there exists
incomplete individuation on the part of the father,
and the infant is merely an extension of the
father's incomplete "self". The boy is under the
injunction to not only look like the father, but to
actually be the father!
When confronted with the actual pain that the
infant experiences during the surgical procedure,
the most common adult responses tend to be: the
surgical procedure is painless; the infant feels no
pain, because infants are incapable of feeling pain;
or the pain is only transient and not remembered.
It is the dynamics of denial and the lack of empa-
thy for the infant's pain that may have the most
traumatizing pathogenic effects (Balint 1969).
My interest and activities in the natural birthing
movement have given me the opportunity to talk
with midwives and natural childbirth instructors.
The issue of circumcision invariably comes up,
and as one instructor told me: "The parents in my
classes seem receptive to even the most radical
concepts of natural childbirth except one, circum-
cision. It's like I hit a stonewall on this. I show
them all the studies debunking the medical claims
for the procedure, I even show them graphic
videos of the foreskin removal — all for nought, so
far I'm batting zero, they all have it done to their
little boys!" But on a positive note, the statistical
trend does show a decline in the circumcision
rate — mainly because many insurance companies
refuse to view this practice as "medical," and
refuse to pay for it. And I am increasingly meeting
women who have shown enormous courage in
protecting the integrity of their sons' anatomy in
the face of psychological pressure from spouse,
family, medical, and religious sources.
Circumcision is very much a women's issue.
Gender politics and issues of control are at the
heart of the ritual. Circumcision is also very much
a men's issue. Direct or indirect threats against the
man's penis have always been a means of achiev-
ing control and conformity. Circumcision is a
ritual aimed at installing castration fear in men;
and fathers who are concerned with nurturing and
not dominating their sons are refusing this ritual
Balint, Michael. 1969. 'Trauma and Object Relationship".
International journal of Psycho-Analysis. 50: 429-435.
Birdsell, Joseph B. 1953. "Some Environmental and Cultural
Factors Influencing the Structure of Australian Aboriginal
Populations". American Naturalist 87: 169-207.
Briggs, Anne. 1985. Circumcision: What Every Parent Should
Know. Earlysville, Virginia: Birth and Parenting Publications.
Chamberlain, David B., Ph.D. 1983. Consciousness At Birth: A
Review of the Empirical Evidence. San Diego, California:
Eisenstein, Mayer. 1988. The Homecourt Advantage. Chicago:
Family Practice Publications.
Gilmore, David D. 1990. Manhood in the Making. New Haven:
Yale University Press.
Paige, Karen Ericksen and Jeffery M. Paige. 1981. The Politics
of Reproductive Ritual. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
A sunrise of purity
And sweet innocence
And we can all hope again
This latest arrival
Messages of survival
This ancient little mensch
Who carries on
With his feathery fingers
He is an old, old magic
He springs from the
Dead center of our nature
He is our mystery
And we are his
Hurry here to Jason
Get a look at
Something we all lost
Before the should's
And the should not's arrive
Followed closely by
MEN AND BIRTH: A SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Bly, Robert. (1990). Iron John: A Book About Men. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Bolen, Jean. (1989). Gods in Everyman: A New Psychology of Men's Lives and Loves. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Brod, Harry. (1987). The Making of Masculinities: The New Men's Studies. Boston: Allen & Unwin.
Byers, Kenneth. (1990). Man In Transition: The Roles He Plays as Father, Son, Friend and Lover. La Mesa, CA: Journeys
Cath, Stanley H., Gurwitt, Alan, and Gunsberg, Linda (Eds.). (1989). Fathers and Their Families. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic
Doyle, James A. (1989). The Male Experience. Dubuque, I A: Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
Garfinkel, Perry. (1986). In a Man's World: Father, Son, Brother, Friend and Other Roles Men Play. New York: New
Greenberg, Martin Harry. (1985). The Birth of a Father. New York: Continuum.
Hall, Nor. (1989). Broodmales: A Psychological Essay on Men in Childbirth. Dallas, TX: Spring Publications.
Kimmel, Michael S. (1988). Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity. Newbury Parkway: Sage
Kort, Carol and Friedland, Ronnie (Eds.). (1986). The Fathers' Book: Shared Experience. Boston: G.K. Hall.
Lamb, Michael E. (Ed.). (1986). The Father's Role: Applied Perspectives. New York: J. Wiley.
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MOTHER EARTH III
The impetus to create Mother Earth EI has a
specific psychological trigger. In April of 1988 my
wife went into premature labor and gave birth to a
daughter that lived only a day and a half. A whole
series of experiences left me with a complex of
unresolved issues: the loss of a child, the way my
wife was treated by the male medical establish-
ment, the way men are treated by the medical
establishment in regard to the birth experience.
This work evokes images of the oppression of
women, the crises in obstetrics, our culture's
attitude toward the birth process, and, at a reli-
gious-historical level, the displacement and re-
pression of the Mother Goddess.
The iconic representation and dominant image is a
Goddess Form. The archaic or non-Western style
of the Goddess makes reference to the fact that for
over 99% of human history, god was a woman.
The Goddess/woman is distressed. The displace-
ment of the Mother Earth Deity for the Patriarchal
Martyred-Male icon marks what Gregory Bateson
calls an "error in epistemology" that has ecological
consequences - possible species extinction.
The threat of the closing pincers upon the sus-
pended fetal forms portrays an ominous image:
"macho-techno power," symbolized by the huge
pincers, overpowers both the laboring woman and
the helpless fetuses. The obstetric references are
apparent - laboring women forced to wear fetal
monitors, forced into stirrups, increasingly forced
to birth through surgical wounds - caesarean
sections and episiotomies.
The public exposure of a laboring woman and of
unformed fetal bodies alludes to women's threat-
ened reproductive right. Women's privacy is
obscenely violated by the male-controlled political
"right to life" movement. Women are pitted
against women, evidence of the meanness of
Mother Earth is laboring astride huge pincer -
forceps. The earth is strained against increasing
technological force. "Astride of a grave and a
difficult birth, down in the hold lingeringly the
grave digger put on forceps" (Samuel Beckett).
The sculpture also signifies women's loss of
control over the birthing process. The laboring
mother is in the grip of the large steel pincer/
forceps - a symbol of male power and dominance.
The sculpture symbolizes the elimination of
midwifery and the forced submission of women to
male/technological control over the birth ^experi-
The laboring woman is held captive while precipi-
tating countless fetuses in order to feed the narcis-
sistic macho imperative to "proliferate one's
genetic material." The fetal forms spill past the
patriarchal steel grip onto a cold, hard, black
Ancestral Figure, Steel, 36" x 24", 1990, Art Schmaltz. Photo credit: Richard Burd.
Dream Flight, maple, 26" x 22", 1985, Art Schmaltz. Photo credit: Richard Burd.
Mother Earth, Steel, 7 x 36", 1990, Art Schmaltz.
Photo credit: Richard Burd.
MARTIN LUEDERS - THE ETHICS
OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY
Street or documentary photography is far more
than just the obtaining of recordings of people
acting out their natural tasks. They are not clan-
destine nor are the subjects unilaterally vulnerable
to the photographer. The concept of good docu-
mentary photography is based on social communi-
cation between the photographer and the subject;
the vulnerability and the respect must be raised
and held by both parties in an extremely short
time. Trust is given perhaps under flimsy circum-
stances. The documentary photographer may not
have the ability nor time to offer a long explana-
tion of his or her reasons for making the photo-
graphs. Nor do either the subject or the photogra-
pher have the time to establish anything more
than a superficial sense of whether or not either
one can be trusted in showing the truth. The
photographer may lie in the positioning or instruc-
tions to make the subject fit more in line with his
or her ideas of how the subject should look. The
subject may lie in order to present a more positive
circumstance for the viewer. In this type of pho-
tography, mixed in with expediency and shallow
reasoning, is a hopeful blend of morality, human-
ity, ethics, and an understanding of a moment's
collaboration in creating an image supposedly
reflecting some truth.
In Martin Lueder's photographs this social interac-
tion takes place in two general categories. In one
group, we see what is supposedly a candid or
unaware portrait. The subject is not in direct
contact nor confrontation with the photographer.
They interact with their environments taking on
similar tones, textures and repeated edges. They
appear theatrical, perhaps by the exaggeration of
the subjects in the knowledge that they are indeed
performing for the photographer. Still they are
one — and in each case, either content or serene.
The other category is one of direct confrontation.
In these portraits the subjects display the most
confidence. The subject not only directs his stare at
the photographer but offers an air of arrogance
about his given lot in life. What makes Lueders'
photographs of this type so strong is his aware-
ness of the environment — not as an adjective of
explanation, but rather as a third party commen-
tary. The arrogance of the subject is confronted by
the look-alike potatoes and pigs — there is a
heightened sense of complex drama. Unfolding on
the main stage are the actors and their audience
(Lueders). The subplot is the relationship between
the subjects, their environments, and questions
about whether all of this may have been predes-
tined because of the similarities. The subplot of the
images becomes the real interest in Lueders'
Paul Schranz is University Professor of Photography at
Governors State University.
C.H. Spurgeon once wrote, "Test everything by experience. Human beings cannot be added up like a
column of figures: you can only know men by living with them." In February, 1989, 1 left college and
moved to London in order to test by experience. I found work as a laborer on a building site and as I
became acquainted with the "blokes" I worked with, I began making portraits of them. Gradually, these
portraits evolved into a cohesive series wherein I extended the scope of the project to include people from
all walks of working class life in locations throughout London.
Basically, these portraits reflect the notion that we all have strengths and weaknesses which when given
the opportunity, we're willing and able to share with others. It was photographer Robert Frank who said,
"The best would be no writing at all."
Untitled, Martin Lueders
Martin Lueders, 1989
Vincenzo, Martin Lueders, 1989
ill II 'U
Untitled, Martin Lueders, 1989
Despatch Rider #19,
Martin Lucdcrs, 1990
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY
"The difference between popular and unpopular photography examines the reality of a male-oriented society
in which the exhibition of female nudity is permissible while that of male nudity is not. This sociologi-
cal statement by Boersma makes the double standard apparent: the scrutiny of the male gaze relegates
women to a subservient position in our culture, while the men retain a privileged, inviolate status." -
from program notes for Simple Truths, Works by Jay Boersma, Chicago Public Library Cultural
Center, October 1989.
AND UNPOPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY
IN THE MEN'S HOUSE
As men we have so little holding us together.
Those women have a chain going back to Sappho and beyond.
They carry their daughters with them nine months
Before letting them out into the harsh world;
While we scramble to remember
Which night of pleasure resulted in our sons.
Some men have never touched their fathers.
Some fathers try to certify their sons:
"Is there any part of me in him?"
It's been months since those chromosomes swam away.
How could they remember anything of me?
Out connection cannot be in a womb-like past
But must lie in a constructed future
Made of body and soul, tenderness and daring,
And whatever else we can muster.
It's cloudy outside.
Inside my sky is clear.
A few tiny cumulus clouds appear
to the west
But my Spirit is alive and can blow them away.
If I am the changer I must also let myself be changed.
If I expect to intrude, I can learn to welcome.
We are in the men's house, grumbling.
I want any of us who know anything of love
To come forth as teachers.
I want us to take off our masks.
There isn't a man among us
Who doesn't need to learn a little more.
I soar as on wings of eagles
Swoop down, land on limb, fold my wings,
Snuggle fledglings in my breast.
My talons are sharp.
I gage down from the next, target a fish.
Eyes, wing, and talon become one.
Tree to water to tree in one
I bring home to the next that which I desire
for those I love.
Only the sadness the fish must die
darkens the cumulus clouds.
TEMMIE GILBERT WINS
Temmie Gilbert, on the Editorial Board of this
magazine since its inception, has won her third
Emmy Award for her children's television show,
"Odd Potato." The half-hour drama tells the story
of a young Jewish girl whose family is about to
celebrate its first Hanukkah since the mother died.
As the family struggles with their sorrows, the
traditional lighting of the Hanukkah menorah
brings the family together. Her earlier prizes were
for "Nothing is Simple," a story about inter-racial
dating, and "The Magic Door", a weekly Sunday
morning children's show on CBS-TV. Dear
Temmie, you've done it again! Congratulations!
Photo credit: Loretta Calcaterra
JUDY PANKO REIS WINS CLAIROL
TAKE CHARGE AWARD
The Take Charge Award, worth $1000, honors
women over 30 who have overcome obstacles and
made a positive change in their lives. Judy Panko
Reis, 39, was selected from a field of over 2,000
applicants. Her story is an inspiration: ten years
ago Judy was research manager for an interna-
tional consulting firm, engaged to a doctor, and
while camping in Hawaii, they were attacked. Her
fiance was bludgeoned to death and Judy was left
with a crushed skull and brain. Judy has truly
encountered overwhelming obstacles; she is still
partially paralyzed, and has too many blind spots
to drive a car. However, she is now a wife and
mother (son Shelley is three), and has completed
her master's degree in philosophy at the Univer-
sity of Chicago, studying mind-brain relation-
ships. She is now pursuing a Master of Science in
Communication degree at Northwestern Univer-
sity. She does free-lance consulting for a law firm
and serves on advisory boards of PACE, RTA,
CTA, and the Midwestern Brain Trauma Center of
Northwestern University's Rehabilitation Institute
of Chicago. It was Kathleen Burch at the Rehabili-
tation Institute who urged Judy to submit her
biography for the award.
Judy found The Creative Woman by coming to a
Chicago Women in Publishing panel discussion,
where this editor was holding forth on little
magazines. Before the evening was over we had
agreed to do a special issue on women with
disabilities and to call it "Swimming Upstream.''
Judy will be guest editor for this long-awaited
issue to be published in Summer 1991. Readers:
don't miss this one. Judy, we are proud of you!
Photo credit: Oscar Izquierdo
WEBER STATE COLLEGE
SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES-
OGDEN, UTAH 84408
Quilt As Metaphor. The editors invite contributions for a book of
essays that explore the metaphorical significance of quilts and
quilting. We are interested in essays that examine, in
theoretically interesting ways, quilts and the process of making
them as textile texts, political acts, or cultural commentary. We
also encourage submission of interviews, photos or other forms of
discourse on the topic. Send inquiries or 4 page abstracts by
September 1, 1991 to Judy Elsley, English Department, Weber State
University, Ogden, UT 84403-1201, or Cheryl Torsney, Department
of English, West Virginia University, 230 Stansbury Hall,
Morgantown, WV 26506.
Feminist Women's Writing Workshops, Inc.
P.O. Box 6583 Ithaca, NY 14851
The Feminist Women's Writing Workshops announces its 17th annual summer
conference, July 14-26, 1991, at the lakeside campus of Wells College, Aurora, N.Y.
This year's guest speakers are Jewelle Gomez, Grace Paley, and Nancy Bereano.
resident faculty are Mary G ill i land and Shay Youngblood. Share in small group
discussion, with individual conferences, private writing time, feminist bookstore and
discussion with editors included. Supportive atmosphere, honest criticism, contact with
serious writers. We welcome women in all genres and with all degrees of experience.
Early enrollment is encouraged. Some scholarship aid is available. Please send query by
April 15, 1991. For descriptive brochure, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to
Rachel Guido deVries, Director, Feminist Women's Writing Workshops, P.O. Box
6583, Ithaca, N.Y. 14851.
THE BLACK VIRGIN FILM PROJECT
2103 Harrison St. NW f Suite 2211
Olympia, WA 98502
THE BLACK VIRGIN FILM PROJECT needs funding,
equipment donations and personal histories for
a film about the Black Madonnas of Europe.
Send donations or inquiries to: The Black Virgin
Film Project, 2103 Harrison NW , Suite 2211,
Olympia, WA 98502.
Women Make Movies
and Words , a
films on poets,
wr iters such as
to con t empo rary
Women Make Movies is pleased to announce Women
multicultural collection of seven award-winning
essayists and novelists, from historical women
Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Sarah Orne Jewett,
favorites like Alice Walker and Toni Morrison
purchase or rental, individually or for video sale as a
discounted set. Contact Women Make Movies, 225 Lafayette, Suite
207, New York, NY 10012 (212)92 5-0606 for ordering information or
to obtain the Women and Words brochure. The complete WMM
catalogue is also available upon request.
THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S WRITING GUILD
CELEBRATES 90 BOOKS PUBLISHED (IN 12 MONTHS)
AT ITS 14TH ANNUAL SUMMER CONFERENCE
The International Women's Writing Guild (IWWG) will celebrate
the publication of 90 books published by its membership (in 1990)
at its 14th Annual Summer Conference at Skidmore College, Saratoga
Springs, NY, August 9-16, 1991.
The IWWG is a network for the personal and professional
empowerment of women through writing. Conference attendees need
not be members of the IWWG and attendance reguires no writing pre-
requisites. For further information about The International
Women's Writing Guild and/or the 1991 Summer Conference, contact
Hannelore Hahn, c/o IWWG, PO Box 810, Gracie Station, New York, NY
10028. Tel: (212) 737-7536.
We mark with sorrow the passing of three of our writers:
Elaine Nelson CJarretson
September 30, 1912
January 23, 1991
December 8, 1914
December 31, 1990
Sonja Rita Weil
September 2, 1943
November 20, 1990
Each of these women, in her own way, left us a gift of herself. Our previous issue
on Life Stories contained a memoir by Elaine Qarretson, "The Music Box," a grace-
ful account of her coming of age from girl to woman, and the special meanings of a
treasured possession. Edith Perlmutter amused us with her story of triumph in "The
Annual Faculty Barbecue Bash" and forced us to consider the "Ironies" in our lives as
we read her rueful and witty account of hers. In Sonja Weil's story of her grand-
mother, "The Rose Qarden," she teaches us to capture beauty and tenderness even
from the most terrible memories. All three of these remarkable women say to us,
"Remember all the good you can. Don't forget my love."
We gratefully acknowledge a donation to The Creative Woman from the estate of Sonja Rita Weil, conveyed by
William C. Wilkinson, Estate Administrator. Bill told us, "If Sonja could speak to us, I think she would say, I want
you to have this ." Our deepest thanks for a particularly touching gift.
1 A Journal
Hypatia / ( ,:;';"7
HYPATIA, a journal founded by members of the
Society for Women in Philosophy as a forum for
dialogue within the women's movement, is
dedicated to the publication of scholarly research
in feminist philosophy
and the only journal in
the country for
scholarly research at
the intersection of
Triannual. Subscriptions: S25 individuals (one year), $48.00
individuals (two years), $40 institutions. Outside US, add S10
per year for foreign surface postage. Send orders to Indiana
University Press, Journals Division, 10th & Morton Streets
Bloomington, IN 47405. Or call 812-855-9449.
CHRONIQUE FEMINISTE N°38
DU DESIR ET DES ENFANTS
Face au ddsir d'enfant, nous devrions aujourd'hui etrc scrcincs,
puisque l'acces a la contraception est ouvert a toutcs el le
recours a ravortement possible dans certaincs conditions.
Pourtant nous constatons qu'il n'en est rien. Dans cctlc
Chronique femlnlste, nous tenlons de ccrner quels sont
les murs qui bloquent nos ddsirs d'enfant.
Vous trouvercz 6galemcnl dans ce numdro nos rubriqucs habi
tucllcs: les attcnlives, les lectures et quelques aulres...
Le n": 200 FB - Abontiement de 5 n°: 700 FB par tnandat pos-
tal international (communication: PRO MO 38)
University des Femines - la. Place Quetelet 1030 Bruxelles ■
The newsletter of the
American members of the
International Jean Gebser
Society, devoted to the
research and communication
of civilization/culture and
human consciousness. We
publish twice each year in
March and October. We
include short papers, poems,
book reviews, information of
interest to our readers, and
news of members' activities.
There is no charge for the
newsletter. To receive the
Gebser Network Newsletter
Michael Purdy, Editor
Division of Communication
Governors State University
University Park. 1L 60466
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I appreciated Bethe Hagens' good-natured re-
sponse to my criticisms and also Art Schmaltz's
contribution to our mini-debate. At the risk of
boring some of your readers, I would like to
respond to three important points that were
First, Bethe Hagens' claim that the Hopi language
does not have nouns and verbs had me puzzled.
For a short while I even thought that I myself
might have fallen prey to the kind of "mental-
rational" prejudgment that Art Schmaltz men-
tioned in his rejoinder to my Letter to the Editor.
Not trusting my memory of the ethnographic
knowledge I acquired in the 1970s while doing
postgraduate research in anthropology at the
University of Durham, England, I checked up on
available Hopi grammars. To my surprise, there
are none. I then looked through Armin Geertz's
book Children of Cottonwood, which contains
translations of Hopi stories together with the
Hopi original text. It took a bit of detective work
on my part, but it seemed to me that the Hopi
language clearly has both nouns and verbs, and
makes a distinction between subject and object, as
I had claimed in my original letter. But I wanted
to make quite sure, and so I got in touch with
Professor Ekkehart Malotki of Northern Arizona
University, who is considered to be the authority
on the Hopi language. He confirmed my conclu-
Referring me to his mammoth monograph Hopi
Time, published in 1983, he also confirmed my
suspicion that the widely made claim that the
Hopi language does not distinguish between past,
present, and future tense is inaccurate. Time is
expressed but in a different way from English.
This misunderstanding appears to go back to
Benjamin Whorf, as has been pointed out by
Second, Art Schmaltz's claim that the Inuit (Es-
kimo) language "functions quite well without
nouns and verbs" appears to be similarly mis-
leading. Consulting Ken Harper's grammar on
Eskimo languages, I found sentences like iglumik
takuvunga ("I see a house"), which demonstrate
that Inuit does in fact have nouns and verbs.
Apart from this fact, his lexicon also clearly
distinguishes between nouns and verbs. What is
also true, however, is that in the Inuit language
verbs are exceedingly prominent and over 600
verbal forms are distinguished. By comparison,
there are a mere 300 verbal forms in Greek and 400
in Sanskrit. Inuit is a highly "incorporating"
language; that is, it modifies verbs to indicate
possessive pronouns, etc., and this may give the
impression of there not being a subject and an
Thirdly, without meaning to be pugnacious about
it, I must challenge Art Schmaltz's interpretation
of archaic GaiaSpeak as being "integral" in the
sense intended by Jean Gebser. It is clear from
Gebser's work that the integral mode of conscious-
ness is emerging only today — on the foundations
of the archaic, magical, mythical, and mental-
rational structures of consciousness. Also
Schmaltz is mistaken when he characterizes the
integral consciousness as "egoless." According to
Gebser, egolessness pertains to the magical struc-
ture, whereas the integral consciousness is marked
by ego-transcendence or ego-freedom, which is
quite a different "thing." In Ken Wilber's terms, he
has committed the "pre/trans fallacy."
According to Gebser's evolutionary model,
GaiaSpeak can be assigned to the era of the late
archaic /magical consciousness, which preceded,
as Schmaltz rightly noted, the neolithic age. For
this reason it is indeed enormously difficult to
reconstruct the grammar and vocabulary of
GaiaSpeak, and the risk of mental-rational projec-
tion is omnipresent in any such attempt. We must
almost become "ego/ess" in order to intuit
GaiaSpeak. This is an interesting psychological
and epistemological issue, which Gebser began to
tackle, though not without meeting great resis-
tance in academic circles where ratio reigns su-
preme and where, at least in theory, other modes
of knowing are deemed inferior and invalid as
research tools. I have written about Gebser's
integrative methodology in my book Structures of
The above criticisms notwithstanding, I agree with
both Hagens and Schmaltz that reconstructing
GaiaSpeak is a worthwhile and an exhilarating
task. We will learn from it, regardless of whether
or not it will be successful.
Lower Lake, CA 95457
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
"Thoughts on Leaving"
When Jesper told me that we'd be leaving Illinois (my birth-
place and home for many years), I decided I'd take a small vial
of black prairie earth with me as a symbol of a place I hold
dear. As the day came for me to leave, I found I'd reached a
new understanding about what we take with us as we take
our leave from beloved people or places.
It is what we hold in our hearts — not in our hands — that
I left Illinois with empty hands, but not with an empty heart.
So many of you, met there in these last years, have made my
life rich and happy. And for the gifts of love and friendship
you have extended to me, I bless you.
As I sit here, listening to the sea pounding in the high tide, you are with me. Though there is distance
between us, we are One. As the circle created by the earth, the sky, the sea, we are One.
Rye, New Hampshire
(Claudia Snow worked on this magazine in the 1980 's
and organized the community support group, Friends of
The Creative Woman, later The Creative Woman
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Fall 1990 issue of The Creative Woman
captured me like an adolescent admirer. The first
fifteen pages did it, starting with the Introduction.
My hat is off to you for choosing the theme Life
Stories and introducing it so sensitively and
So many of my strings vibrated in resonance with
Rev. Gibbons' beautifully open sharing of her
"imperfections, addictions and denials," that I
want to know her more. Sharing life stories to the
point of vulnerability does this of course.
As Rev. Gibbons wrestles with being a "real
feminist," I wrestle with being "the real Me," free
of pretense and conditioning. I am painfully
familiar "on a deep level (with) my addiction to
approval." The imagery and sense of healing in
her "sources of living water," are very moving for
me, and nourish the work I do on my addictions in
Next. Mary Endres Fyfe blew me away with her
evolving clarity from her life's experiences, of the
connection between creativity and spirituality.
When she writes,
• "Within each person lies creative and spiritual
• "We must all become artists,"
• "Since the creative process is so closely linked
with the spiritual, this makes for transpersonal
my heart stands up and cheers!
It reminds me of the 12th century teachings of
Hildegard of Bingen, reshaped by Meister Eckhart
in the 14th century, into the four paths of our
spiritual journey. Path I is the Via Positiva, Be-
When she writes, "high points in (our lives),
usually come when we discard something and
take a step forward," it reminds me of Eckhart's
Path II, Befriending the Darkness: Letting Go And
Where Mary Fyfe's creative energy finds expres-
sion in her weaving, mine flows out in my speak-
ing and writing - telling The Cosmic Story, the
magnificent unfolding event we call the universe.
My dear friend and co-counselor, Anais Salibian,
experiences a profound interaction between her
"childhood horror stories" and the "hill's protec-
tive presence." Communing with the salamanders
at their annual ritual of coming alive, she realizes,
"simply knowing when to find them is to be in
touch with the personal life of the planet."
Envying Anais' sensitivity to the planet and all of
its trees and other creatures, I am renewed again
in my sense of trust that the universe knows what
it is doing. As I am open and really Me, the uni-
verse will continue to express its love and its
wisdom through me, and the whole human
Turning the page, there was Barbara Hanson's
memoir of her personal experience with General
Pershing. This stimulated warm sophomoric
memories for me, from the summer of '37, when I
had a terrific crush on this beautiful, intelligent,
caring, sophisticated woman of my dreams.
All in all, an enriching experience of beautiful
persons sharing important personal truths. How
exciting to know that there is an emerging com-
munity of folks growing in self-awareness and
self-esteem, talking about creativity and spiritual-
ity, teaching and leading others by modeling love
UNCOMMON LIVES: CREATIVE
WOMEN CELEBRATED AT
Rockf ord College, established in 1 847 as Rockford
Female Seminary, and coeducational since 1958,
does not have a degree program in Women's
Studies ; it does not need one to create a feminist
presence on the wooded, rolling campus in Rock-
ford, Illinois. We were there in April to see
Gwendolyn Brooks read her poetry and receive
the Jane Addams medal, named for Rockford
College's most distinguished alumna. Maddox
Theatre was packed with an appreciative audience
who applauded the warmth and wit, the profound
humanity of Illinois' Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize
winner and best-known African-American poet.
This was the first event in a week-long celebration
of women in the arts. Audrey Flack arrived to talk
and show slides of her work, from her early
photo-realism that shocked the art world and
offended the critics to her majestic sculpture series
now being installed in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Twice life size, the four caryatids are gilded
bronze personifications of Education, Culture,
Industry and Function. The sculptures mark a
public space framed by two sixty-foot high col-
umns faced in ceramic tile, providing an impres-
sive cultural statement in a small southern textile
city. As she revealed her development from
painting to sculpture, it was clear that the attacks
of the critics served to radicalize Flack, to make
her aware of the feminist iconography in her
work. Before Jolie Madame (an early painting that
became a feminist rallying-cry) , she had simply
painted what she liked — jewelry, porcelain,
mirrors, perfume bottles — discovering after the
fact that she had been painting women's icons,
and that what offended the critics was not her
style but her subject matter. This moment of truth
led her to her present goddess-centered epiphany
and a re-claiming of the classic Greek-Roman form
for our time. In her transition from private (in-
door) painting to public (civic, outdoor) sculpture,
she takes all of us along with her on her magnifi-
Melissa Ann Pinney gave a slide-show-lecture on
women in the art of documentary photography.
Her photographs show what is usually left out of
the documentary record of a wedding: the getting
ready to display or present oneself, for example, in
the beauty salon, the laundry room. These ceremo-
nies of preparation convey a sadness, a sacramen-
tal, even sacrificial quality. In contrast, her rural
photographs of pregnant women, women grouped
in three generations (maiden, mother, crone)
confront the viewer with powerful, matriarchal,
truthful images. These women do not need to "get
ready" for they are already complete, entire,
integrated, and natural.
Cecilia Condit, video artist, showed her work and
expanded on these short experimental pieces
dealing with violence against women, contrasted
with the fragility, beauty and sweetness of
women. Her techniques are complex, sophisti-
cated, subtle and disturbing, a montage of images
and double images, computerized translations.
Her musical sound track is extraordinary. The
truth that emanates from Condit's screen is not
easy to take, and it haunts the viewer for days
afterwards. Condit teaches film and video at the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Virginia Eskin is a pianist who specializes in
discovering and performing women composers. In
a stunning tour de force, Eskin and Marian
Hollinger, professor of art history at Rockford
College, performed a duo event, alternating slides
of women's paintings from turn of the century
impressionists with piano pieces by women
composers of the same era. The parallels from
lyrical, impressionistic pieces to abstractions and
ragtime were evocative and instructive.
Throughout the week the college art gallery was
showing "Women Viewing Women," a brilliant
exhibit of contemporary women photographers.
The show included works by African-American,
Hispanic and Asian- American women photogra-
phers, using manipulated images, mixed media,
documentary materials, abstraction and text-and-
image interwoven. We were pleased to recognize
four of our published artists in this show: Judy
Dater, Sherry Shapiro, Tamarra Kaida and Merry
Who gets credit for pulling off this remarkable
achievement, a full week of important and extraor-
dinary events, exploring the reaches of contempo-
rary feminist art? The organizing committee
included Dr. Marian Hollinger, gallery director
Barbara Morris, and Sue Cassidy. Rockford Col-
lege President Gretchen Kreuter warmly sup-
ported this ambitious endeavor, a series that
would do credit to any college or university.
Artists were chosen, we were told, "to explore the
honesty, conviction, difficulties and satisfactions
of a creative life" via "an openness to discovery, a
receptivity to the possibilities of chance, and a
committment to the honesty in life's circuitous
paths." What a rich feast. What a treat.
We're Looking for a Few Good Men
And, like the Marine Corps, feminist women are
finding them, sometimes in unexpected places.
Unlike the Marine Corps, our definition of a "few
good men" includes the trait of gentleness as well
as toughness, sensitivity as well as endurance, and
dedication to equality as well as devotion to duty.
In addition to the good men — Art Schmaltz and
Dave Matteson — strong pro-feminists who have
worked long and hard to put this issue together, a
few other remarkably encouraging specimens
have lately come our way.
Would one expect to find a convinced feminist in a
Marine Corps fighter pilot, a veteran of over 100
missions in Viet Nam, a Sioux warrior who has
endured the traditional Sun Dance ceremony six
times, who is also a lawyer, writer and lecturer? It
does not fit the expectation, but life is surprising
and Eagle Man Ed McGaa is such a one.
Eagle Man Ed McGaa is the author of Mother Earth
Spirituality and is preparing his second title for
Harper and Row, on The Rainbow Tribe, which
deals with the non-Indians in the Mother Earth
spirituality movement. These non-Indians inspired
by Native American teachings, are combining the
Native teachings with environmental knowledge,
feminism and ecological concerns. Eagle Man
insists that a woman, personifying legendary
Buffalo Calf Woman, open all ceremonies. The
sweat lodge, particularly, requires a woman
because the lodge represents the womb of mother
earth, from which we all come and to which we all
return. He asserts that this is the time for women
to come forward and take charge of ceremonies,
and to provide leadership if the planet's life is to
survive and flourish. He writes,
"Womankind is half the human world, but most
importantly, women are the peaceful ones, and in this
new era, it is the most peaceful ones who will bring
ultimate harmony. Perhaps it is because our spirit
guide happens to be a woman. Since the dawn of
recorded history, it is the men and not the women
who have plunged into war. "
"The older a woman becomes among the Sioux, the
more powerful she is regarded to be. Her acquired
wisdom is listened to and respected by all. "
"Today we all face a great environmental crisis. We
will have to re-assess our values and look at the
natural way for wisdom. The Western world has an
enormous defense budget; not millions but trillions of
dollars are projected for weapons upon weapons.
These resources will be needed for the renewal, and
the beginning of the end of the poisoning of Mother
Earth. In the light of global warming and the thin-
ning of the ozone layer, it could well be an environ-
mental holocaust. . . that can spell the end of life for
us all. "
"We two-leggeds can approach others of completely
different cultures and creeds in peace and mutual
support. We must shed our narrow-mindedness, we
must stop exploiting each other. We don 't have to be
alike to work together for the common world good. "
"Communication and universal understanding
coupled with generosity and sharing can do more for
world peace and the ultimate rehabilitation of Mother
Earth than all the weapons can do. It is time for
communication and wisdom to replace fear, mistrust
and narrow mindedness. "
Eagle Man calls forth "Rainbow Tribe" to join this
task. The traditional Native Americans know what
needs to be done, but there are not enough of
them to do the job; non-Indians, "Rainbow
People", are to fulfill the prophecy of Black Elk in
Here is a warrior who has turned his gaze toward
the task of healing ourselves and our world. The
task is urgent. He has much to teach. To share a
medicine wheel, pipe ceremony or sweat lodge
with Eagle Man Ed McGaa is an inspirational
experience. You can reach him at 1367 So. Stage-
coach Trail, Afton, Minnesota 55001,
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Women in Science
Vol. 2, No. 4
Vol. 3, No. 2
Year of the Child
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Vol. 4, No. 1
Energy in Living Systems
Vol. 4, No. 2
The Coming of Age
Vol. 4, No. 4
Women in the Wilderness
Vol. 5, No. 2
Third World Women
Vol. 6, No. 2
Women in Law
Vol. 6, No. 3
Vol. 6, No. 4
Vol. 7, No. 1
Vol. 7, No. 2
Vol. 7, No. 4
Women of China
Vol. 8, No. 1
Women as Healers
Vol. 8, No. 2
Vol. 8, No. 3
American Indian Women
Vol. 8, No. 4
New Voices (Susan Griffin)
Vol. 9, No. 1
Pentimento (Barbara Wallston)
Vol. 9, No. 2
Women of Israel: Jewish and
Vol. 9, No. 3
Women in Management
Vol. 9, No. 4
Vol.10, No. 2
Vol.10, No. 3
GAIA: The Living Planet
Vol.10, No. 4
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